November 2012 Trip Report

From Dennis our president

My November clinic report will be a two parter. Part 1 is the clinic result as written by Alicia on her blog and copied below. No reason for me to rewrite what has already been well said.

Part two will be more the story behind the story. With that let us begin.

Part 1 (It’s not plagiarism if you use quotation marks, right?)

“So things were really looking up Friday afternoon when two planes were on the runway to overnight with two dentists and our pharmacists on board. What a huge way to kick off the season of 2012/2013. There was plenty of work to be done before opening the gate Saturday morning and the crew worked late into the evening making those preparations happen. Our overnight crew had the chance to give out the clinic numbers Saturday morning which is always a really cool way of letting the group see how folks coming to be treated by them begin the process before planes usually arrive. Of course that also allowed some of our providers to begin treating folks long before the fog lifted and we could give the wheels up signal to those providers waiting in Mulege. So we had our waiting area filled earlier than usual. Of course not all of these folks were waiting for a dentist. But the dental chairs filled at 8:15 this Saturday clinic and were kept hopping all day. This early start allowed our dental department to treat 27 dental patients as well as help 13 more walk away with brighter/cleaner smiles. The two doctors saw to the needs of 30 patients with another 8 pediatric consults provided. Our OBgyn ladies saw 18 and the chiropractors helped 70 folks walk a little straighter with a good bit less pain in doing so. Our eye doc from Constitucion helped 27 folks see better and we had two additional translators from Constitucion as well. It looks as those numbers total at 193 folks seen at the November clinic. Of course if we add the 107 pharmacy patients taken care of the number goes right to 300, if we are looking at total numbers. I sort of hang with the 193 patients seen and 107 patient medication requests filled in order to meet our clinic permit reporting obligation.”

Part 2

At the risk of giving too much information about ‘how the sausage is made’, I’ll give my perspective on how this clinic evolved. (I don’t have exact details of what coordinators did to get their ranks filled and in the interest of maintaining plausible deniability, I don’t want to know!)

To have a successful clinic, we need at least the big three: providers, planes to get them there, and patients to be seen when they arrive. There was a little behind the scenes drama on two on the three, but all turned out very well.

Transportation - We were in good shape this clinic and even had a plane in reserve. That’s important because we really hate to tell willing providers that we don’t have a ride for them. Good job pilots!

Providers – We had a good list of providers, but with only one dentist signed up, we were a bit tighter that we would like. Thursday evening I got a call and until 10:21, I thought we might have no dentists. A lost passport was found and things brightened considerably.

Patients – Sorry, if you want to know, you’ll need to put up with my ramblings a bit longer.

I was the airplane that went directly to Lopez Mateos on Friday and my passengers were; a very able interpreter, a dentist, dental assistant, and two pharmacists. As we were arriving, I thought to myself that for once I’d get to park on that concrete pad closest to the clinic. It was not to be! There was a V tailed Bonanza already parked in my cherished spot. Turned out to be a good thing! It was our dentist from Vancouver and in less than twenty four hours, we went from having the possibility of no dentist to having two. Better yet, they were both on the ground, so Lopez fog would not stop them from getting an early start the next morning.

The clinic equipment came up very well with just a few minor issues. Dental and pharmacy got their houses in order and all was ready. I looked forward to a strong clinic and not even Lopez fog could stop us from getting a jump on the dental patient load.

Morning came and with it, fog. We all got to the clinic early enough to see the patients waiting in line and saw the numbers being assigned. One problem, short line, as in get done seeing patients before noon short. You already know the outcome, so how did we get to that good result and so many patients for the day? The Baja race is a huge event for these folks and it was passing near that morning. Our patients saw the race early and then turned out for clinic as the day progressed. It made for a steady stream of patients all day and the providers were well occupied but not overwhelmed. I also heard from the providers they were dealing with significant patient health issues.

My able interpreter did learn the story of one of those in line. A mother and her daughter got there the night before at about 11pm and found themselves about number six in line. She and her daughter spent the night in sleeping bags, got their numbers and both received the needed dental care. She knew the needed dental services were available in Constitucion, but indicated she could not afford them.

Why do I share these things? Beyond getting to tell this little tale, it speaks to the fact that this amazing thing we do, this clinic, does not always come together easily. When it works, and it almost always does, there are many part and pieces and a certain amount of good fortune that must converge. It only succeeds because of the skill and dedication of the coordinators and the willingness of all of you to contribute your valuable time, your skills and your good humor to this effort. Thank you all. It takes amazing people to do this amazing and so very worthwhile clinic.

Next clinic is scheduled for December 14-16. It will include Santa’s visit to the children of Hotel Serenidad’s employees.

¡Viva la clinica!

Dennis Gerlach
President Phoenix Chapter
Flying Samaritans Arizona