Day 6

We began our day by heading to St. Hilda’s Anglican School in Georgeville, a small community school which includes children up to age 14. We set up stations outdoors under the gazebo where the prelicensure students recorded height and weight and conducted preliminary screenings before the NP students performed head-to-toe exams. An interesting diagnosis that was identified involved a young child who had a harsh heart murmur. Our instructors explained that this murmur would be classified as a grade IV/VI (4/6). The child’s mother was contacted and coordination is in process with the district nurse to provide further treatment. Each teacher at St. Hilda’s was given various donations such as first aid kits, beach balls, bug repellant, and other miscellaneous items.
From here, we went back to Galen University to eat our packed lunches. Martha was so kind to send us with a delicious meal of chicken salad sandwiches, potato chips, oranges, and freshly baked banana nut bread. After lunch we made a short drive to St. Barnabas Anglican School, another primary school with around 70 students total. Here the grad students continued with their assessments while the prelicensure students focused on health education in the classrooms. Teaching topics ranged from hygiene to nutrition. Although the information was the same, teaching styles had to be altered according to different age groups and developmental needs.
We cannot believe tomorrow is our last full day in this beautiful country! We will work hard and make the most of our remaining time here.

Day 5

Today started with an interesting traditional creole breakfast. We were surprised to learn that BBQ chicken is a breakfast food in Belize.  Next we went to the Santa Elena Preschool and did some health education for the kids and parents.  The building was very simple, but it was clear that the students were so loved and learning so much.  The prelicensure students did a wonderful job teaching the kids how to properly wash their hands, choose healthy foods, and brush their teeth.  Graduate students did checks on the kids and took several BP’s on parents and grandparents.  The kids were so sweet and even performed a little song and dance for us.  Next we went to Galen University, our host university and had the opportunity to talk one on one with several of the students and provide health counseling.  We had a wonderful lunch at the school and then headed to a gift shop in town.  Change of plans meant we had the afternoon off to spend exploring San Ignacio.  Students did all kinds of activities, including market shopping, horseback riding, and even visiting the local spa!  Many of us ended the day on the guesthouse terrace with the best pizza in San Ignacio! We are so ready for tomorrow!

Day 4

Today was our first day providing medical care for the San Ignacio / Santa Elena communities. We began with a tour of the San Ignacio Community Hospital which sits atop a hill overlooking the city. This was an incredible opportunity to see first hand the state and functionality of Belize’s health care system.
The hospital was very modest with only 16 beds with a very large focus on Maternal Infant health. The nurse giving our tour said they provide many forms of contraception for women for free, the most common being the Birth Control Implant. They also put a huge emphasis on breastfeeding, illustrated by posters all through the halls. We were shown their 7 bed mother baby unit, sterilization room, and 9 bed emergency department that doubled as their med-surg. Seeing their highest levels of medical care personally gave us a perspective of the treatments and resources our to-be patients have available to them.
Following the tour we traveled across one laned Hawkesworth Bridge into Santa Elena for clinic at Santa Elena Roman Catholic School. We saw a total of 297 patients in grades 1-3, their teachers and a handful of other school workers. Patient diagnoses spanned from allergy or asthma related to heart murmurs and and sprained ankles. The children were all so genuinely joyful and incredibly well behaved. The most consistent health problem identified among these children were dental carries. Many of their smiling baby teeth were stunted in growth and turning blue/black from lack of oral hygiene practice. Many of the kids know they should be brushing their teeth, but their families simply do not have the access or income necessary for proper care. We were able to provide lots of patient education in various areas. In all, even after a just a short clinic, each team member finished the day with a sense of accomplishment, personal growth and a full heart.

Day 3

Day 3 in Belize and the adventure continues. The country is on holiday celebrating Benefactor’s Day so we took advantage of the free time and explored what natural wonders Belize has in store. We began our day with another wonderful breakfast at Martha’s, who incidentally serves the best coffee in town! Then loaded up the vans and headed west on a death-defying ride on windy and tumultuous roads until we reached our destination…Jungle Splash Tours. Robert, Emil, & Giovanni were amazing tour guides! We navigated the waters of the river through the Mayan Moutains on a slow rolling pontoon boat taking in the wonders of the jungle and mountain life. We saw White Hawks, baby crocodiles, and some kind duck that loves to be under water! Robert risked life and limb guiding many of us under the waterfall while Emil grilled up a delicious chicken and potato feast for our famished adventurers. Overall, we have had a day of wonderment and fulfillment with a greater appreciation of the nature of the land and the love that the people of Belize have to share it with us. Our group hopes that through our experience here we can offer recognition of the simple beauty of this country and help promote preservation of it’s resources. See you tomorrow with an update on our first day of clinical care!

Day 2

Busy day today. Visited a senior home this morning. Very different than those in US. All residents up and outside,  calm setting. Students enjoyed interacting with the residents and they enjoyed spending time with the students. Lunch at a Belize outdoor restaurant and then on to a guided tour of the Xunantunich Mayan Archaeological Site. Dinner at Martha’s followed by introductions and discussions with FNP students and prelicensure groups. Long day planned for tomorrow.