If yesterday’s ceremonial dedication of our brand new permanent clinic at San José Villanueva was the dress rehearsal, today was opening night! We inaugurated the new clinic with over 1,000 patients as we set up shop in and around this beautiful new building. As we got off the bus at 8:00 am, there was quite a line-up to greet us – always a good sign.
Our Dental team took their rightful places in their bright, freshly painted clinic rooms while Medical spread out across the rest of the building filling exam rooms and common areas. Pharmacy took over the main entrance area and Distribution set up outside the building in the courtyard across from the very orderly outdoor “waiting room” (not many waiting rooms can accommodate 500 people!). Steve and Paul, our traffic specialists planned the patient flow brilliantly for maximum efficiency. As you can imagine, our new building was not built to accommodate such a large team or so many patients, all in one day – but Steve and Paul somehow made it work. Great job, guys.
David Stiller co-founder of the Stiller Foundation, a key donor behind the construction of the clinic, joined us for the day and spent time in every department. He watched, listened, asked questions and was able to get a real sense for how we operate and how committed that team is to treating as many patients as possible by the end of the afternoon. All in all, it was another amazing day and we were thrilled that David could join us – it meant a great deal to the entire team.
Over in Dental, 42 year old Oscar arrived in Endodontist Dom’s chair with a tooth that was in dire need of a triple root canal. Often Dom would manage the root canal and complete the process with a filling. But it was clear in this case that a full crown was the only lasting option. So Oscar shifted to Rick’s chair who had arrived in El Salvador with several prefab stainless steel crowns in his kit. Within minutes, Oscar was out of the chair with a brand new shiny crown in his mouth and a huge smile on his face. The Dom/Rick tag team approach is new this year and has been paying dividends as we elevate the level of treatment and bring great efficiencies to the patient flow.
Meanwhile, over in Dermatology, Channy faced a long line-up of patients all day. One of them was Alejandro, an 82 year old local with a nasty cancerous growth on his arm. Channy expertly excised it and cleaned the area, finishing up with 7 stitches. But Channy had some help. Ongoing education and the all important training of local healthcare professionals is a major part of the Speroway mandate. Channy spent the day with two San Salvador doctors who learned a great deal through watching, listening and doing – another way we try to make a lasting difference in the local community. But all three of them were challenged when Juan Francisco arrived with a 25 year-old bullet wound that healed poorly and continue to bother him all these years later, due to poor drainage and remnant bone fragments in his leg. Channy and his local support team reopened his leg, cleaned out and cauterized the wound. When it heals, Juan Francisco should be pain free after so many years of discomfort.
And the list goes on. Meredith caught an elderly woman as she collapsed from dehydration and quickly administered IV fluids. She quickly improved and walked out of the clinic on her own feeling much better. Dentist Ed and his assistant son, encountered a terribly abscessed tooth in a young woman who’s face was swollen and painful. They fixed her up in no time. And towards the end of the day, medics Steve and Rebecca travelled to the home of an elderly woman dying of cancer who was just too weak to make the trip to the clinic. There was little they could do beyond offering pain relief and comforting words – but what a difference they made.
It’s safe to say that we opened Speroway’s San José Villanueva permanent clinic with a bang seeing 1070 patients. It’s the first step in a shift from one day medical relief clinics to sustainable, community-based healthcare services. It was an exciting day at a facility that will play a critical role in the future of the region. Tomorrow we’re off to San Salvador’s massive inner city slum called the 1st of December. It’s sure to be another powerful experience for the entire team. Thanks for following along on the blog – it means a great deal. Until tomorrow…
by Timothy Fallis, Chairman of Speroway’s Board of Directors