During the night, the Filipino volunteers worked: we arrive in a gymnasium all set up: in the first half, the altar and waiting rooms; in the second half, the doctors' tables and the two pharmacies; between the two, the five medical care boxes; and finally, the optician on the left and the dentists on the right.
After having feared a shortage of doctors, they are finally twelve at the appointment: in addition to the six Filipinos, we have two ENT specialists, a pediatrician, a radiologist and two general practitioners. There is also an optician, three dentists and two pharmacists. So it's a great year!
The volunteers come from many countries: fifteen French, three Germans, a Polish doctor recruited at the last moment, four American women including our tireless Cristina, a Swiss, and two Belgians very proud that their flag appears first on the mission's banner!
Day Two: Monday, April 9, 2018
When we get to 7:00, there's already a long line. It is planned to register the first patients early enough, so that they can enter and attend Mass. Imagine a ceremony in a station hall at a rush hour... And of course, the priest doesn't have a microphone, except for the visaya sermon!
The start-up is done slowly: it takes a little time to coordinate all the poles, ensure a good regulation of the flow of patients, and distribute them among the different doctors. While our intrepid dentist Nelda Nesperos completes the four-minute marathon per patient (knowing that some have several teeth removed at once!), other doctors will have seen only four or five patients in the morning. At noon, we readjust, and the rhythm is more balanced in the afternoon.
As far as general medicine is concerned, there are few outstanding cases, except thyroids to be examined, and some abscesses to be removed. A serious case: a man arrives with a large sinus tumour, which he has had since September 2017 and which deforms half his face. He did have a biopsy in late 2017 to confirm the cancer, but had absolutely no means to seek treatment. Now his tumor has become inoperable... Dr. de Geofroy prescribes antibiotics and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
Patients parade non-stop to the optician. Alexandra discovered the mission last year, and back in France, since her clients regularly brought her glasses for the Filipinos, she had no choice but to come back! With some four hundred pairs of glasses, she has enough to work miracles. From that very first day, she found that the pathologies were more serious than at GenSan.
Here are a few cases: a 64-year-old one-legged woman presents herself with a strong myopia; she cries with joy as she discovers life behind her new glasses: "I am so happy! so happy!" Of course, it's also an emotional moment for Alexandra. She observes some cases of pterygions: it is a disease caused by tropical luminosity; a small skin develops at the edge of the eye and can deform the cornea. When it is taken in time, there are eye drops to absorb it, but this is not possible here. Patients still leave with sunglasses that will protect their sick eye. A 52-year-old man comes for a consultation because he is almost blind but no correction improves his vision, so he must have a retinal problem or glaucoma. He is sent to the hospital to consult a specialist.
At the end of the day, we have rosary and mass, this time with a sermon in French. Just as Our Lady was pure to carry her Holy Child, so we must be virtuous to hope to do good to our patients and show them God's love.
At dinner, the troops are tired from this first day: consulting in constant noise, with little living space and no comfort, checking and counting quantities of medication for the 350 patients seen today, this is the pace to take for the week, knowing that we will have more people the next few days.
Dr de Geofroy, as a worthy replacement for Dr Dickès, offers us a debriefing to improve some technical aspects. One night of repair on top, and we'll be ready to provide a good 2018 vintage!