February 2015 Trip Report


We rely on guest columnists for our February clinic report.  Gail Brown, Beth Diedrich, and Bonnie Lassen have written about their LSI experiences and Jesse Johnson provided commentary from a Lopez Mateos perspective. My apologies to them for getting this out so late.   My only comment is to alert you to an upcoming social event/recruiting opportunity.  It will start at 5:30pm on Saturday, April 11 and will be at the same location as the last two, Aunt Chiladas - Squaw Peak.  I hope you’ll be able to join us and take the opportunity to help us recruit new members. It’s a great chance for potential new members to meet a few of us before we launch on our long journeys together. 



Gail Brown wrote:

My days of seeing patients in LSI date back to the early years when the Tucson Chapter started a clinic here. And way back then, “in the old days”, we would see patients in the classrooms at the school and also in a camper, which was always interesting to say the least!

What a change! The clinic building that our colleagues in Tucson built is amazing! Not only is this building used as a medical and dental clinic for the Flying Samaritan’s volunteers but it is also shared with the local physicians, as well as serving as a community center. It is an honor to be able to continue working with this small, yet very proud, community.  Our hope is to supplement the local medical physicians who travel to LSI several times per month, weather and roads permitting, by providing occasional specialty clinics such as pediatrics and OB/Gyn. And continuing to provide regularly scheduled dental services which are very needed services.


Beth Diedrich wrote:


The February trip was a new adventure for a few of us holding a mini-clinic at the Laguna San Ignacio location. Not to sound redundant, but the building is impressive. The clinic is bright, clean (other than a little of our Baja dust), organized, and very modern. We thought we would be bored, and spend our day cleaning and organizing, but we already had 12 patients signed in when we arrived. The beautiful smiling faces made us feel appreciated and right at home. With Bonnie's wonderful help translating and teaching, Gail and I saw more than 30 patients for care or eyeglasses. Dennis, Don, and Charlie repaired a complicated and much needed plumbing issue. The weather was perfect, and the local women made us a wonderful lunch of seafood soup, rice, and tortillas! Although we did not know the pharmacy formulary and did not know to bring our own exam equipment, we now will be better prepared. It was a great experience and ended with catching up with our other Sams at Hotel in Mulege. See you in March!

Bonnie Lassen wrote:

This was my first visit to the LSI Clinic and I was very impressed with their facility.  The clinic is a beautifully constructed building with, not only the offices for the doctors and dentists, but also a large, covered waiting area.  I wish I had taken a photo of our logo on the outside wall of the clinic—it certainly announces our presence in this small village.  And when I say small village, that is an apt description.  The roads leading in an out are all dirt and bumpy and the houses and public buildings are set far apart giving the town a spread out appearance with very little vegetation to break up the dry desert.

However, meeting with Azucena and the patients who arrived at the clinic and waited patiently for their turn was heart-warming.  Azucena is my contact with the town and she is a delightful young woman who organizes the patients and prepares the clinic for our arrival.  The set-up table with her daughter and a friend was very well organized and ready for business when we arrived.  The two Nurse Practitioners were kept busy with ob-gyn, general medicine and eye glass patients.  Also our three pilot/engineers worked very diligently all day making the water and propane pumps and general infrastructure accessible and easy to operate.  Don Downey, Dennis Gerlach and Charlie Brown toiled in a small space all day and deserve kudos for their work.  I enjoyed my experience interpreting for Beth Diedrich, who does such an amazing job and Gail who is the rock that helps us all to provide the medical help to our clinics.


Jesse Johnson wrote:

When Dennis asked me to write this month’s trip report after we had returned from Lopez, he had a smile on his face a cold beverage in each hand. After a brief negotiation, we came to terms and I “Volunteered” He didn’t look that thirsty anyway.

People. La Gente. The beautiful families we serve, along with the Flying Samaritan volunteers, are the reasons I am so excited for the opportunity to participate in this monthly adventure. In a short time, I fear I may be diagnosed an addict.

The essence of the land of Baja and its people must be experienced to be understood and appreciated. From the moment our pilots and passengers meet on the airport ramp, the stresses of everyday life here in the states begin to melt away as we make our way across the border into a simpler life- if only for a few days- on a mission to improve the lives of others one patient at a time. This trip was no different. Friday morning’s departure afforded smooth flying and beautiful vistas. Our stop in Guaymas was uneventful, as usual, and a short hop to Mulege had our group settled in the Hotel Serenidad before long. Terry, a part-time resident/pilot in Mulege, had worked to pump out a wet spot on the runway before our arrival to ensure a safe and uneventful arrival for our volunteers, the value of a local pilot on the ground cannot be overestimated. Thank you Terry!

Some of the group headed south for the Friday evening meal at Sr. Gecko (formally known as Sauls). A walk down the highway rewarded us with an outstanding fish dinner. Salvador and Nacho were ready and willing as always to bring us home. The provider turned out for the clinics (Lopez and LSI) was strong this month, bolstered by a great group from the Aeromédicos. The weather in Lopez was gorgeous, and work began early Saturday morning without delay from typical coastal marine layer fog.

Chief Engineer Dennis and crew headed to LSI for clinic improvements. Phil took charge as Clinic coordinator in Lopez and had things flowing in short order. We had extra nurses on hand which allowed for 3 triage tables. The clinic had a steady flow of patients all day. With the strong turnout of provider’s and interpreters, some in the group were able to take a break in the early afternoon to whale watch. Simon arranged two boats for 12 people to head out for an extended ride that took us along the massive creatures and their young. The mother whales would let us get close, but not too close. Next month as those babies become a little more experienced we expect more intimate encounters. I can attest that the ride alone is worth the boat trip.

Although the short whale watching trip was great, my day was made early on at the clinic. After helping an elderly woman with a simple pair of reading glasses, she broke down. She told me she had been unable to read clearly for some time and when the words on the eye chart came in to view she teared up. I am not a medical provider. I do not get to experience these simple miracles very often. I will never forget the look on that woman’s face after she was given improved sight by the Sams. You all are special people.

Clinic day wrapped up nicely with the hard-working dental team taking care of the last few patients. A scenic flight home to Mulege had us back in plenty of time for some live music and great food with even better company. The pastel sunset was magical. Everyone turned in early to catch some Z’s.  :)

For those who have been Flying Samaritans for some time, let me remind you all what an impact you make upon the lives of people who so deserve your generosity. As a newcomer, it is impressed upon me the amount of time, money, and sweat that has been given in the name of the Sams over the years. It is readily apparent the lives in and around Lopez Mateos have been improved consistently as a result of all your hard work.

Thank you all for allowing me to participate. It has truly been my pleasure.

Hasta Pronto!


PS-Please click on over to Alicia’s blog to check out clinic stats for February. It can be found under “LINKS” at www.flyingsamaritans.com