Seminole Lake Rotary has been organizing volunteer medical missions to Peru for nearly two decades–helping children with cleft palates, as well as providing dental treatment to adults and children. Following a recent trip to Chiclayo, Peru in 2014, Mike Hopkins and Adam Belmarez–both of whom were active participants in the dental mission–felt that the citizens of Chiclayo could be best served if the dentists in the area were better trained. They had seen first hand how many of the Peruvian dentists who they worked alongside were not well trained in administering anesthetics and effectively extracting teeth, evidenced by the pain displayed by many of the patients.
Seminole Lake Rotary worked with Dr. Carlos Castrillon Leon, a local Rotarian and dentist in Chiclayo, to organize a dental training, which expanded to include medical training. The team included Sandra Lilo (Organizer and Dentist), Mike Hopkins (Dentist), Adam Belmarez (Dental Assistant), Steve Bloom (Dentist), Michael Hurtack (Scrub Tech), Franz Richter (MD), and Paul Turner (Photographer). In addition, Franz Richter, an MD practicing in Miami and specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, joined the team to conduct ozone therapy training for the local doctors. The results were amazing.
After several travel snafus–which resulted in redirected flights, a lost bag of medical supplies, and an arrival in the wee hours of the morning into Lima–the team arrived in Chiclayo on Thursday afternoon, April 23. Thursday evening was immediately spent presenting medical and dental techniques to the doctors and dentists. We were fortunate to have a group of very attentive and motivated doctors who were anxious to learn and improve their skills. Friday morning, we traveled to a clinic in Chiclayo where the doctors and dentists were given hands-on training.
Franz focused on training the medical doctors in the use of anesthetic and ozone injections to treat back, neck, and knee ailments. The team saw patients with severe back, neck and knee pain. Franz trained them in how to evaluate and diagnose the causes of the pain, identify the correct locations in which to perform injections, and properly perform the injections. The results were dramatic, both for the doctors and the patients. Initially, observing Franz, the doctors took an increasingly greater role in the diagnosis and treatment of the patients. They asked many questions and, armed with cameras, took lots of pictures. The patients reported significant reductions in pain within hours.
Mike and Steve, assisted by Adam and Michael, began by demonstrating the proper techniques for injecting anesthetic and extracting teeth. They then observed the Peruvian dentists as they worked on patients and provided feedback and guidance. During our 2014 visit, it was clear that the Peruvian dentists often did not provide sufficient anesthetic and, in addition, did not apply it in the proper locations that would ensure the patients were sufficiently numb for the process of extracting teeth. A significant amount of focus was placed on proper techniques for properly numbing each patient. Mike and Steve also provided guidance on how to evaluate the health of each patient’s teeth to determine when extraction was required. The Peruvian dentists were clearly attentive and thankful for the new techniques they were learning.
The team returned to the hotel on Friday afternoon. Friday evening, Sandra Lilo presented on the use of ozone to arrest decay and ultimately reduce the number of extractions required. The Peruvian dentists asked many questions and were clearly interested in the benefits that ozone could provide to their patients. Ozone can be cheaply produced and effectively stops decay after applied.
Armed with additional knowledge, the Peruvian and American teams returned to the clinic on Saturday to find a far greater number of patients (the word had gotten out). By mid-morning on Saturday, the Peruvian medical doctors were clearly becoming proficient in performing diagnosis and treatment themselves. One eighty-four year old patient, who had received back treatment on Friday, experienced such a reduction in pain and increase in range of motion, that he returned on Saturday to have treatment on his knees.
The Peruvian dentists were presented with several challenging extraction cases, which provided a great opportunity for additional learning. One case, an impacted wisdom tooth, required two and a half hours of work where Steve, Mike, and the Peruvian dentists worked together as a team to extract the tooth. The teamwork was amazing.
Saturday afternoon, the dental team returned to the hotel to pack and head back to the airport. Franz remained at the clinic to treat the remaining patients and continue training the medical doctors. The Peruvian doctors expressed deep gratitude for the time the doctors had spent. In the process, we established lasting friendships.
Unfortunately, the travel snafus weren’t over. After their flight from Chiclayo, the team arrived at the airport in Lima only to find out that their return reservations had been cancelled due to the challenges with the flights on Wednesday night. They spent two and a half hours at the ticket counter in Lima working with the ticket agent to get flights home. They finally arrived back in Tampa on Sunday at 2pm.