Faith in Practice is a Houston-based 4-diamond charity that provides medical and dental care to people in need in Guatemala. There are about 40 care teams in the United States that travel to Las Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua and village clinics in Retalhuleu. Las Obras is a 500-year-old Franciscan hospital and home for incapacitated and abandoned children and adults, many of whom were born with Cerebral Palsy. About 21 years ago, Faith in Practice began working with Las Obras.
In the blog below, learn more about the work of Faith in Practice at Las Obras as told by Cary Shapoff. Here, he describes his third year of participation in Faith in Practice’s medical missions to Antigua, Guatemala.
This year was my third participating in the Faith in Practice medical mission to Antigua, Guatemala.
The team was organized by two very dedicated individuals from Savannah, Georgia. Dr. Ray Maddox served as the medical director and Mr. Tom Inglesby was the team administrator.
Our team went to a hospital in Antigua, Guatemala that provides health care to the indigent population in the surrounding mountainous villages, and we saw dental patients from the region of Santa Rosa about three hours away. There is a special relationship between Las Obras Hospital and our Savannah community that has been growing over the past 19 years.
Arriving in Guatemala, approximately 42 members of our team, including individuals from across the board of the medical and dental professions, came together and collected the 40 large trunks of medical, dental, and pharmacy supplies to aid our mission.
First, we were introduced to the hospital and had a group session on hospital protocol. The dental team, myself included, had an opportunity to unpack and set up treatment kits for the next day. The next day the medical team began triage and examinations for surgical candidates, and the dental team got started in our clinic.
Each day we saw about eight patients, some with significant dental needs but many with numerous dental problems.
Most were in need of substantial dental hygiene and non-surgical periodontal care, requiring intensive ultrasonic debridement. Our patients ranged in age from six to 85 years old.
Because Guatemala has the fourth-highest level of malnutrition in the world, we saw many patients with significant decay issues, a large number of cleft lip and cleft palate conditions, and periodontal disease from lack of routine care. Many of the patients had previous extractions without replacement of missing teeth.
The patients all were extremely appreciative of any care they received and were especially appreciative of the toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste donated by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.
In summary, the experience was a worthwhile week away from my private practice. The appreciation expressed by the patients we treated was genuine. Many of these people from surrounding villages have significant medical issues, family medical issues, and dental issues.
Without the volunteers from Faith in Practice and other missions, no dental care would be possible or available to these warm and gentle people.
I would encourage any dental health care providers, specialists, general practitioners, dental hygienists, or dental assistants to consider volunteering on teams like Faith in Practice.
With your care, plus support from organizations like the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, the dental health of this very poor country can be improved one patient at a time.
This Faith in Practice medical mission was supported by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation Health Kit Outreach program, providing six different kits, from oral screening to medical wound care.