El Salvador – Day 2: Getting It All Together

by Tim Fallis


With our first clinic coming up tomorrow, today was all about getting ready – and it was an all day affair!  We were up early for a full team meeting after which we split into groups and started working through the daunting list of jobs we needed to get done before dark.  One group set up in the hotel’s internal courtyard to count pills – vitamins, analgesics, blood pressure tablets, antibiotics and laxatives.  Standard individual doses were bagged and packed allowing the Pharmacy to operate at maximum efficiency on clinic days.  This takes hours and hours but we tackled it in shifts and had it all done by late afternoon.

Another fifteen of us piled into vehicles for the short trip to our nearby warehouse where skids and skids of equipment, supplies, food and meds needed to be transported back to the hotel.  We filled two trucks with hundreds of boxes and one 600 lb. generator!  Once we returned to the hotel, we then unloaded everything to take stock and organize by key functions: Dental, Pharmacy, Medical and Distribution.  We have two storage rooms at the hotel – one for Pharmacy and one for Distribution.  Once both rooms were filled, the respective teams really got down to business.  Specially labeled plastic bins, lining the hotel corridor, slowly filled up with medications as all the boxes from the warehouse were opened and repacked.  Other bins were filled with the newly counted and bagged vitamins and other meds.  The Distribution team took stock of what they had and started splitting off a supply for each clinic day.

In another part of the hotel, the Dental team trained our newcomers on the incredible portable units they’ll use this week.  It’s not like your traditional downtown dental office – the reclining lawn chair might be your first clue – but this team will perform miracle after miracle all week long, bringing lasting change to the people they treat.  And the Medical team reviewed and repacked their supplies and then met as a group to go over the drug formulary and the simple but highly effective patient sheet to be completed for everyone they see.  

Tomorrow, we’ll be grateful for the time and effort we invested today.  We’ll travel outside San Salvador to the community of El Congo for our first of five clinics.  We’ve learned that there’s been no medical support of any kind in this area for several years – so we’re expecting long line-ups and a busy day.  But we’ll arrive with our biggest team ever – nearly 70 including our student translators (more about them in a future post) – no one will be turned away.  

Thanks to Medical Lead Dr. Tony Brown, Dental Lead Dr. Jack Cottrell, Pharmacy Lead Chris Ritskes and our founder, Ken Dick, Speroway’s mobile clinic model is regarded as the most advanced and refined in the world.  I’ll write more about the Speroway approach tomorrow night in my recap of the day’s events at El Congo.   We’re excited and ready to go – stay tuned, there’s much more to come!