There is nothing like screening day. Many say it is their favorite day even though it is often the longest day of the week. It is humbling to see parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers waiting patiently to have an opportunity to receive medical care.
Some of the children have never been to the hospital before. Some are babes in arms with cleft lip or cleft palate. Some have received a surgery in previous years and are returning for further surgeries or care. And some are here only to say “gracias” and to show how healthy their child is.
No matter what the reason for their arrival, the goals are always the same: above all, any child who is not well enough to have surgery is screened out to ensure their safety; to show unconditional positive regard for every person; and to give medical assistance to anyone we are able to treat.
Today was no different. 68 potential patients went through screening. They start with surgery to see if they are a candidate. Then they head to ear, nose and throat, primarily to see if they need tubes or have tonsillitis. Next is a screening by anesthesia, followed by a visit with the dentists. Their last medical stop is pediatrics where any necessary blood tests are ordered.
Each family has a patient advocate to help them navigate each stop. And at every stop the families and their advocates wait patiently together, usually standing and learning more about one another, taking photos, exchanging smiles, and playing with the kids.
Families who have come in the past recognize one another and help give each other support and information. Team members are reunified with families from previous years and exchange many hugs. Rotarians in Huehuetenango lend critical support and friendships are rekindled.
It is the best and we wouldn’t miss it for the world.