PERU MISSION TRIP – PISCO, PARRACAS, CHINCHAPeru Mission Trip November 3 – 13, 2016
The POHF, Inc. Medical Mission Team 2016 consisted of Roberto Springer, PA-C; Kimberly C. Hutcherson, MD; Naomi Kirkman-Bay, MD; Paul Alleyne, MD; Kristina Vaughn, MD; Shannon Christie, FNP; Marisol Dyer, CCRN; Julissa Ashao, RN; James Hill MA; Rita Mangallanes LPN; Jasmin Demerson MS4; Sharon Johnson, and Jaquoyah Drayton,
November 3 – On Thursday the 3rd, the Picture of Health Foundation, Inc.’s Medical Mission Team began their 10-day mission trip to Peru. Eleven of the 13 members assembled at the Atlanta Jackson-Hartsfield International Airport for the 6-hour flight to Lima, Peru. The medications and medical supplies were initially overweight and had to be evenly distributed between 6 duffle bags, 11 pieces of luggage, and 1 box in addition to everyone’s personal luggage, which was limited to 1 piece per person. Once air borne, we tried to contain our excitement and to get some rest as we knew our first clinic day was that following morning.
We arrived in Lima, Peru at 11:25 PM. After picking up our luggage and going through customs, we were welcomed by a delegation of people from EFOPI #51 FAP (Escuela Formacion de Pilotos, Fuerza Aérea de Peru), our hosts for the mission trip. We were greeted at the airport by 2nd Lt. Jonathan Mio (pronounced Meeyo) a Peruvian Air Force pilot and personal guide.
November 4 – (Clinic Day 1 – Pisco) After a 4-hour bus ride, we arrived at 5:00 AM at our living accommodations on Peru’s Air Force base pilot school in Pisco, Peru.
By 7:45 AM, we were provided a complimentary breakfast at the Air Force base cafeteria and 2nd Lt. Mio introduced the team to Col. Antonio Garcia Falkenheimer, the Pisco FAP Base Commander. Col. Falkenheimer welcomed us to Peru and the Air Force base and thanked us in advance for the service we were to provide. Upon arrival to the base clinic, there was a greeting ceremony by Comandante Suarez, Deputy Base Commander, Comandante Diaz, M.D., Health Department Commander, and other medical personnel, which thanked and welcomed the team. The working accommodations at the Pisco Health Department clinic were more than adequate with great working space for the providers and staff. The clinic’s medical staff was very helpful and attentive to our needs. On the first clinic day, we were successful in evaluating and treating 132 patients.
November 5 – (Clinic Day 2 – Pisco) After getting a night of well needed rest and breakfast at the Peruvian Air force base cafeteria, we resumed seeing patients by 9:00 AM in the clinic at the Pisco FAP Health Department. By this day, locals heard of our arrival and we evaluated and treated 170 patients. The various disease processes at this site included an abundance of environmental allergies, H-pylori and gastro-esophageal reflux, as well as occasional parasitic infestations. In total, 302 patients were evaluated and treated at the Pisco FAP Health Department on that day.
November 6 – (Day of Rest & Fun) The Medical Mission Team toured the town of Paracas, visiting the Islas Ballestas and a neighboring museum. The team and Lt. Mio traveled by boat to Islas Ballestas, a group of small islands near the town of Paracas located within the Paracas district of the Pisco province in the Ica region on the south coast. Rich in marine life, the uninhabited islands are home to sea lions, pelicans, Peruvian boobies and Humboldt penguins.
On the way to the islands, on the Paracas peninsula at Pisco bay, we were able to get a good visual of the Paracas Candelabra also called the Candelabra of the Andes, which is a prehistoric geoglyph cut two feet into the soil with rocks placed around the figure. The figure is 595 feet tall, large enough to be seen 12 miles at sea. It is estimated to date back to 200 BC, although many believe it is much older. The meaning and the purpose of the Candelabra remain unknown.
We were also informed of the history of “Guano”, which are bird droppings used for fertilization of the soil – once the main financial support of Peru.
After the boat tour, we went to the Julio C. Tello Museum, where we learned about Peru’s past, customs and ceremonies, and in greater detail, about the terrain of the dessert, ocean and mountains.
Col. Falkenheimer arranged for the team to spend the afternoon at their 5-Star Hilton Double Tree Hotel in Paracas. We rejuvenated ourselves with a wonderful lunch poolside overlooking the ocean. We were graciously given a hotel room for several hours so that many of us could catch up on emails and FaceTime our family and friends. The Pisco FAP had many limitations, with minimal running water for bathing and flushing toilets, as well as no Wi-Fi. Many of the team also had their first hot shower since our arrival in Peru. In the evening, we left and returned to the FAP Air Force base while Lieutenant Mio traveled back to Lima to transport the remainder of the team – Dr. Alleyne and Dr. Vaughn, to Pisco FAP.
November 7 – (Clinic Day 3 – Paracas) The arrival of the two other physicians allowed our team to reach its full complement of 13 members. Here, we began our second site of the medical mission with the 1st being at the Health Department in Paracas. Paracas dignitary Miguel Angel Castillo, Paracas mayor and local media greeted us, including television and radio. The Peruvian Air Force Base Ceremonial Band welcomed us, and Air Force representative 2nd Lt. Luis Palomino himself, gave the welcoming speech. After organizing the workflow of the providers and the pharmacy, we began seeing patients. The day was extremely successful. We evaluated 220 patients – with 215 visiting the pharmacy receiving free medication. The complimentary lunch and dinner were provided by the Paracas Health Department clinic, with the dinner taking place back at the Peruvian FAP Cafeteria.
November 8 – (Clinic Day 4 – Paracas) our 2nd day in Paracas was our busiest day of the entire mission trip. The word was out and people took busses to see us, some as far as Lima. We saw and treated 301 patients on this day. More patients were waiting, unfortunately we could not see anymore that day. They were told we would be in Chincha the following 2 days and they could be seen there. In total, we evaluated 521 patients, of which 516 received treatment and/or free medications. After packing up in Paracas, we had a late dinner at the Pisco FAP cafeteria. At this point, some team members needed laundry services. After buying supplies in town, Marisol Dyer, CCRN and Shannon Christie, FNP collected our T-shirts and Polo’s along with some personal items to have them washed in preparation for the Chincha Health Department clinic days. As the water supply and pressure was extremely low, the wash cycles took three times a normal cycle in the US.
November 9 – (Clinic Day 5 – Chincha) The POH Medical Mission Team and the FAP Band arrived at the Chincha Policlinico Municipal for the 1st of 2 days. After a brief ceremony and introduction by the local dignitaries, we evaluated and treated a variety of patients that included children, adults, elderly and some disabled. One young female patient in particular was difficult for the staff. The patient was immune compromised with several physical findings to suggest she may be HIV+. The providers performed a rapid HIV Test to confirm the diagnoses. Sadly, the staff members were emotionally drained after having to inform this young mom of the results. To the contrary, we also saw several happy children and their parents who received free gifts. The children received donated dolls, bubble wands, Frisbees, coloring books, and toothbrushes. We were provided lunch by the clinic at the nearby municipal offices. Once more, the community was very happy to have us in their city to provide medical care. They advertised the clinic and free medical services with radio announcements and loudspeaker announcements. We evaluated and treated 170 patients on that day.
November 10 – (Clinic Day 6 – Chincha) the 2nd day in Chincha was just as successful. We evaluated and treated 185 patients in our clinic. In total, 355 patients were evaluated and treated at the Chincha Health Department. After evenly dividing the remainder of the medications, we packed up half to give to Pisco Health Department and left the other half in the Chincha Health Department. At this point, we loaded all of our supplies, the Chincha Province Alcalde (Mayor) Professor Hugo Jesus Buendia Guerrero returned with gifts for each of us to thank for our service. The Mayor then gave each member of the team a gift basket with some of the local delicacies, wine and a card that read, “Words could never be sufficient to express my level of gratitude I feel for you all. I will never forget what you have done for my people.” We graciously accepted their gifts and thanked them all for the opportunity to care for so many people.
After leaving Chincha, we returned to the FAP Air Force base and prepared for dinner and the gratitude plaque presentation at the home of Col. Antonio Garcia Falkenheimer. The Colonel’s wife, son and daughter greeted us. We were served Hors D’oeuvres of Ceviche, Crab, and Conch. We also were served a traditional Peruvian drink “Pisco Sour” and a dish “Aji de Gallina” (Peruvian spicy chicken in a creamy yellow pepper sauce, egg, rice and an olive).
The POHF Chairman, Roberto Springer, PA-C and Vice Chairwoman, Kimberly C. Hutcherson, MD presented gratitude plaques to the Pisco FAP for being our hosts, Col. Falkenheimer for his support and vision in having us – as well as for the accommodations, and Rosario (Mali) Mangallanes for her tremendous help in organizing the mission trip by coordinating with the health departments and immigration, visiting the Air Force General to get our mission expedited, when bureaucracy caused stalling of the process. Mali and her sister Rita Mangallanes, LPN were both essential for the success of this trip.
November 11 was day 8 of the mission trip. On that day, we left Pisco province at 3:00 AM for a 4-hour bus ride to Lima. We arrived at the Melia Hotel in Lima and stored our luggage, as our arrival time was many hours before check-in. We had a wonderful breakfast with many fruits, grains and meats – foods we had not had in the past week. At 9:30 AM, we went on a 3-hour guided tour of Lima. We visited Basilica Cathedral of Lima and El Parque del Amor (The Love Park) to see the famous sculpture of two lovers embraced in a passionate kiss. We also saw Catholic churches and categorized bone remains from the genocide inflicted on the local inhabitants. We also learned of the insurrections and finally the independence that occurred. After returning to the hotel to check in, resting and have dinner, we went to the Parque De La Reserva (Water Park). In the water park, we saw the famed “Magic Fountain” (Fuenta Magica), which contains jets that force water to a height of 80 m; the Tunnel Fountain of Surprise (Fuente Tunel de las Sorpresas), which is an impressive 35 m walk-thru tunnel of water; and the Fantasia Fountain (Fuenta de la Fantasia), which is the site of a regularly scheduled laser and picture show, 120 m in length and contains water jets that are synchronized to music. Afterwards, some members of the team went to a local tavern to appreciate some of Lima’s nightlife.
November 12 – Day 9 (Final Day in Peru) was filled with shopping in the local outdoor market. Many shopped until they dropped or ran out of Soles (pronounced So – Les, which is Peru’s Currency). Some team members went for some more sight seeing, including touring the Pyramids.
November 13 – We boarded a late flight on that day from Lima and arrived in Atlanta at 8:30 AM. The Peru Medical Mission trip was a huge success.
We evaluated and treated approximately 1200 men, women and children.
The Board Members of the Picture of Health Foundation, Inc. and the Medical Mission Team wish to graciously thank our donors, supporters and volunteers. We are so blessed to receive your gifts of kindness. Both your prayers and financial support have made the mission trip to Peru a success. You helped us make a difference in the lives of so many others.
With deepest gratitude,
Roberto Springer, PA-C
Chairman, POH Foundation, Inc.
Kimberly C. Hutcherson, MD
Vice-Chairman, POH Foundation, Inc.
We wish to provide a Special Thanks to the Peru Medical Mission Team. Their duties during the mission trip are listed below:
Providers: Roberto Springer, PA; Naomi Kirkman-Bey, MD; Paul Alleyne, MD; Kristina Vaughn, MD; Shannon Christie, FNP
Pharmacy: Kimberly C. Hutcherson, MD; Julissa Ashao RN (Interpreter); Sharon Johnson
Nurses/Interpreters: Marisol Dyer CCRN; Rita Mangallanes LPN
Injections/Photography: James Hill, MA
Assisted providers and pharmacy: Jaquoyah Drayton, Jasmin Demerson MS4
Kimberly Hutcherson, M.D. ran the pharmacy as only she could. She kept us abreast of all the medications on hand and made substitution when we ran out of certain products – flawlessly. Naomi Kirkman-Bey, M.D.; Paul Alleyne, M.D.; Kristina Vaughn, M.D.; Shannon Christie FNP, were the providers who evaluated, treated and managed the bulk of the patients, making my job a lot simpler due to their professionalism, skills and “never give up” attitude, allowing us to accomplish the job at hand. Marisol Dyer, CCRN; Julissa Ashao, RN; Rita Mangallanes, LPN served not only as nurses extraordinaire, but also as translators. They keenly made me aware of my conversational Spanish deficiency, so I had them do the public speaking. Marisol Dyer, CCRN greeted the Paracas province, as well as served Dr. Kirkman-Bey as translator. Rita Mangallanes, LPN greeted her hometown of Chincha and was Dr. Alleyne’s translator. Julissa Ashao, RN served in the Pharmacy giving and writing patient instructions in Spanish, as well as answered questions. James Hill, MA administered medications and was our resident photographer. Jaquoyah Drayton and Jasmin Demerson, MS4s floated with each provider, helped in the pharmacy, as well as helped out with the children – giving out toys, coloring books and dolls. I wish to extend a special thanks to Sharon Johnson. She was an essential part in helping us get the medications to Peru. She worked tirelessly in the pharmacy by organizing, packing and distributing medications. She also gave out toys to the children and at the end of each day, she helped pack and organize the medications. At night she made inventory of stock with Dr. Hutcheson. Her help was invaluable. These Peru Medical Mission Team was awesome and I was so proud to lead them on this successful medical mission trip.