Global Medical and Dental Brigades: Panama (University of Pennsylvania Chapter)

From May 23-May 29, 2015, eighteen students from the University of Pennsylvania’s chapter of Global Medical and Dental Brigades teamed up with students from Miami University and traveled to the region of San Carlos, Panama. On this trip we helped provide health care for a population that does not normally have access to such services. Two Panamanian doctors, one Panamanian dentist, and one American dentist provided care to over 400 patients during the three days that we set up the clinic in the community of La Ermita, Panama.

We established the clinic in a school building in the heart of the community. Initially, the patients would enter the triage room where students would record their vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, height weight, pulse, and respiratory rate. We also documented the patients’ past medical histories and asked about the history of disease in their families. Then the patients would consult with a doctor who would prescribe the appropriate medications or referrals to take care of the case. Next, if necessary, the patients would see the dentists who provided cleanings and extractions of teeth beyond repair. The kids also received fluoride treatments at the dental station. The patients would then move on to attend charlas, or chats, about basic hygiene practices. The adults were informed about health practices such as proper hydration, nutrition, and exercise. The children were taught how to properly wash their hands and brush their teeth. Finally, the patients received their prescribed medications from the pharmacy station.

The donated supplies that we received from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation were tremendous assets to our medical and dental brigade. The dentists utilized the supplies from the oral screening and prevention kit when they performed cleanings and extractions. The adult oral hygiene kit was perfect for providing the adult patients with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss as part of a hygiene pack after we discussed health practices with them. Similarly, the children’s oral hygiene kit was very appropriate to provide to the children after we instructed them how to properly take care of their teeth. Additionally, the medical diagnostic equipment kit was very useful in the triage room to take patients’ vital signs as well as for the doctors to use in their consultations with patients.

The University of Pennsylvania chapter of Global Medical and Dental Brigades thanks the Henry Schein Cares Foundation for providing us with such a generous donation of medical and dental supplies to use in our efforts to improve health care in underserved regions of Panama. This experience is something we will never forget and will take with us as we continue on our journey of becoming health care providers in the future!

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A student demonstrates proper teeth-brushing techniques to the Panamanian children at the clinic.

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Students perform blood pressure readings on a patient in the triage room.

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A student cleans a child’s teeth using fluoride varnish at the dental station.

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University of Pennsylvania students posing in front of the school building in which we set up the three-day medical and dental clinic.