I’m still not feeling well, but at least I made it through a full day this time! Friday was another full day of screening (where the potential patients show up to be interviewed, photographed, and examined by medical staff to see if they’re healthy enough for surgery). Some patients have made incredible journeys to get here. For instance, Mourad (whom I mentioned in the previous entry) was making his third attempt to get surgery. His family heard about an OpSmile mission last year and traveled to Tetouan, only to find out that they were too late…the mission was already over. Then they heard about this mission, but came LAST month instead. Luckily, though, the third time seems to be the proverbial charm!
As a staff member, I don’t have a real ‘job’ during the mission, so I kind of wander around and look for ways to be helpful! For part of the morning I helped a student volunteer hand out stickers and toys to the children as they waited for their turn in screening. The children often start out being rather shy, but it doesn’t take long for them to start loosening up. The parents have been very appreciative of the attention and small gifts.
Later in the day I wandered into Medical Records and started helping out there. I was in the “in-take” area, which is the very first of the screening stations. We saw the patients when they first came in and took their pictures, filled out a little bit of info on their forms, then sent them over to the translators for them to ‘interview’ the patients and fill out medical history. It was actually quite fun. We usually don’t speak the same language, so it’s kind of fun to try to communicate things like, “Move a little bit to the left,” “Look up a little higher,” “Hold the medical folder upright so we can read the numbers in the pic,” “Take the folder and have a seat in the hallway.” At first I was a little uptight about trying to communicate these things, but after a while it just becomes funny! It’s amazing how much a smile can communicate. I just keep smiling and pointing until they figure out what I’m getting at!
A potential surgery patient and her parents are interviewed during the screening process
I really enjoyed working in medical records. I kind of wish I could have gotten the proper training in it before the mission, but learning as I go along is OK, too!