On Wednesday, July 3…
I work on a daily basis Monday through Friday, and in the mornings I help the doctor during consultations. This work includes taking vital signals as well as interacting with many of the patients that come to visit us at the Centro de Salud de Patzun (Patzun Public Health Clinic). The number of consultations varies on a daily basis, depending on whether or not there are a lot of people who lined up that morning to receive a number. The Centro opens at 8am, but the people of Patzun (as well as people visiting from the nearby villages) line up very early in the morning to receive their consultation number.
During my time at the Centro, I have seen a variety of patients yet many of the most common reasons for consultations include diabetes, the common flu, and diarrhea/gastritis. Prior to coming here, I did not realize that diabetes could be a heavily prevalent health issue in this country. However, there is less information available on the importance of a balanced diet, and oftentimes, not all types of food (especially meat, fish, and vegetables) are readily available at an affordable cost. This topic ties into the prevalence of diarrhea and gastritis as well, because much of the street food that people enjoy is largely contaminated by the flies and other insects. Moreover, the availability of sanitary drinking water can also affect these people's health. Due to the importance of this topic, I have been preparing a charla (educational talk) for the visitors at the Centro, in hopes of raising awareness in this topic.
All of the work that we do here is free of charge for the people of Guatemala, because the government funds this public health clinic. There are public hospitals (found in large cities), clinics (like the one that I work at), and posts (located in the smaller villages), which are all operated under government funding. Therefore, all of the staff here is also paid by the government. In comparison to the wide predominance of health insurance companies in the United States, many people opt to come to these public health centers for any medical needs. There are several health insurance companies which also exist in Guatemala, yet these plans are much more costly and generally not affordable for a majority of the people.
Aside from the work, I have been enjoying my weekends traveling to nearby places in Guatemala. I have enjoyed the beauty of Lake Atitlan in Panajachel, visited the very tourist-catered yet beautiful Antigua a few times, and the marvelous ruins of Iximche in Tecpan. Through these mini excursions, I have been able to know more of Guatemala and envelop myself more into their culture and society.