A Trip to the Doctor Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

Daniel Jackson went to Peru for medical experience and co-founded Friends of Belempampa, a non-profit organization providing much needed medical supplies.

Daniel Jackson went to Peru for medical experience and co-founded Friends of Belempampa, a non-profit organization providing much needed medical supplies.

By Amy McMullan ’10

Imagine walking into your doctor’s office needing to be seen for some sort of ailment, and after waiting for hours, the doctor walks in and pulls a crumpled mask out of his pocket and puts it on along with gloves that have obviously been used more than once. He doesn’t wash his hands because there is no sink. This is the story at Belempampa, a healthcare center in Cusco, Peru.

“It’s nothing like what you would imagine a hospital to be,” said Daniel Jackson ’10.

It is run on government funding, but there isn’t enough to go around—hence there are not enough gloves, masks, and soap,” said Rebekah Schulz ’10.

Jackson and Schulz spent a month this summer volunteering in Peru. Jackson worked at the healthcare center, alongside doctors, nurses, and other volunteers. Schulz dedicated her time to working with youth at an after-school program in a relatively poor area of Cusco. Together, they founded Friends of Belempampa, a non-profit organization to reach out to the community in Peru by providing much needed medical supplies.

“I came to this hospital for some medical experience,” said Jackson who is a pre-med student. “I was working in the hospital’s admission office and there was no filing system. Every patient’s medical history is stacked in these very tall, vertical piles. It really takes a long time to find someone’s file.”

So Jackson decided to build shelves. “It was serving in the best way I could,” he said.

Another issue in Peru is the lack of emergency transportation. Daniel’s first trip in the “ambulance” was an eye-opening experience. It was an old pickup truck with a broken stretcher in the truck bed. The stretcher wasn’t secured to the floor of the truck bed and its straps were missing—making it unsafe and unusable.

There was a request for an ambulance to transport a woman who had just given birth, who was also sick, mentally handicapped, malnourished, and intoxicated. The typical process of placing the patient on the floor of the truck bed was insufficient. To prevent her from rolling around in the back of the truck, Jackson rode in the back with her to the hospital.

“She easily could have died on the ride to the hospital, and no one would have known until we got to the hospital,” said Jackson.

Later, Jackson was told that because they didn’t have enough equipment in the ambulance to protect themselves from disease, caring for the patients can be a major health risk.

“We need to equip them so they can have healthy practices,” said Jackson. “You can’t teach health professionals safe practices if they don’t have the tools to put them in place. These are very fixable problems.”

With other volunteers, Jackson decided to take action. He made it his mission to care for these people and to get Belempampa the supplies it desperately needs. Through Friends of Belempampa, others can make contributions to buy basic medical supplies for the facility.

We worked with doctors, nurses, and the administrator to identify problems, research what could be done better, and what needs to be provided,” said Jackson.

“Through the first wave of donations we were able to design and create a rolling hand-washing station that enables obstetrics doctors to wash their hands between babies and also to pay for the reorganization of the horribly confused records system,” said Schulz.

With gifts from friends, family members, and others, Jackson and Schulz hope to expand Friends of Belempampa and continue to serve the people of Cusco, Peru. The availability of protective supplies—including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer — is essential to caring for patients. Another goal is to fix the ambulance and stretcher, in addition to properly equipping it with medical tools. Jackson hopes to secure funding for a hot water heater that can be utilized for washing newborns and general sanitation needs.

Jackson feels that his calling is simple: “If anybody matters, everybody matters.”

“Even though sometimes doing a little good can make you feel really good about yourself, you always have to be paying attention to see if there’s a way you could do more,” said Schulz.

For more information about Friends of Belempampa, visit www.friendsofbelempampa.org.


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