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We Value Our Volunteers (November 2004)

By The Heart Foundation

Our clinic on Roatan is thriving, thanks in large part to the steady stream of generous volunteers. Many physicians and nurses have donated their time and skills to support our clinic staff, provide additional training and treat patients. Without their help, we could not provide the high quality services that we do. Thank you volunteers; your help has been invaluable.

in this issue
* November President's Letter
* Update from the clinic director: Dr. Zeni Duarte
* Letter from a Recent Volunteer: Dr. Allen Kaplan
* Letter from another volunteer: Dr. Eve Paretsky
* Meet your Volunteer Coordinator
* The Bay Islands of Honduras showcases natural beauty while raising funds
* Current Wish List "A little goes a long way."

November President's Letter
I just returned from spending the month of September in Roatan working with the Dr. Polo Galindo Clinic that the From the Heart Foundation constructed, supplied and staffed in 2002. We celebrated our second anniversary on Sept. 30, 2004, and patted ourselves on the back for surviving the first two years. We also achieved a very important milestone when we had a break even month in August. This meant our service income was enough to cover the costs of operations. This is a goal that we had set at the time of the opening;if we can reach that point of self-sufficiency this clinic will be able to have long term stability and not have to depend on charity from a foreign soil. THIS IS A MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT. The clinic continues to function well under the direction of Dr. Zeni Duarte, a diminutive "ball of energy." Her vision of the current and future value of the clinic will drive us to creating a facility that has ever increasing impact on the quality of life in the municipality of Santos Guardiola.

It has become obvious to me that the model we created three years ago has worked very well. That model included the following:
a. quality clinic facility;
b. adequate supplies and equipment;
c. staffed with local talent;
d. supported by a stream of talented volunteers to provide knowledge transfer.
The experience we have had with the volunteers has been one of the most positive aspects of the model.

Drs. Zeni Duarte, Eve Paretsky and Allen Kaplan take a break between patients.
Dr. Darryl Wells shared his expertise in Internal Medicine with his patients and through training with the staff.
Dr. Manoj Menon relaxes on the clinic porch after a busy day of treating patients.
Dr. Arania Adolphson, family physician, has spent the past three weeks volunteering at the clinic.
We really appreciated having Dr. Julie Guertin, pediatrician, on hand at the clinic when the babies were due! Drs. Julie Guertin and Arania Adolphson enjoyed volunteering together at the clinic.
Dr. Kathryn Young, pediatrician, volunteered along with her friend Dr. Guertin. Together they cared for countless infants and children and felt the gratitude of their small patients' parents.
Dr. Shannon Tilly, ObGyn, provided needed support expecting women and new moms.


All of these people contributed their time, energy, experience, and brilliance to leave a legacy with the clinic that is invaluable. The friendships created with Dr. Zeni and all the clinic staff will be long lasting and a valuable piece in developing respect between our two countries.

The opportunity for our staff to work with brilliant young talent from the United States is invaluable and the network of support that is created in this high tech world allows consultation with the best minds in the world on a challenging case presented to a Honduran physician in Santos Guardiola. This is absolutely amazing and you can imagine the strength this provides Dr. Duarte that would not be available without the volunteers investing their time, energy, money, and

Each volunteer that has been down has left their fingerprint on the development of this facility and added to the strength of the model. All of us involved with the Foundation have been moved by the value they have brought to this LITTLE clinic in Santos Guardiola that continues to do BIG things for these sometimes forgotten people.
Be well,

Update from the clinic director: Dr. Zeni Duarte
Yesterday, I saw this message in the wall of a shipping company in Coxen Hole.
"Sometimes there are things that the only sense they make is a SENSE OF HUMOR."

And we have been told that this project is supposed to be fun, and Arania said to me a few days ago, "If I weren't having fun, I wouldn't be here." What that does it mean? It means that she is having fun, and when things don't make sense, she will always find a sense of humor. It's the best way to live the life, as the Dalai Lama said: "If the problem has not a solution do not worry, since you already know that there is no solution, but if the problem has a solution then, why you worry? It has a solution." The moral of the story is the same, do your best in life, and if it doesn't work, do it again. That is my philosophy and that is what I want to share with all of you today. I have assumed the direction of the clinic because I love this project and I love this concept of NGOs coming and working with local people, rather than separated. I feel that is giving an opportunity to young people and not just young to develop their skills, their talents and all the creativity that have inside them. I feel that this is truly TEACHING HOW TO FISH AND NOT JUST GIVING A FISH. I feel that if this clinic, can become self-sufficient is responsibility of all of us, (staff and sponsors) What would we be without our sponsors, volunteers, etc. especially in these precious days when our financial reports still shows red numbers, and the security and stability of having this medical and dental clinic here in Punta Gorda is a fragile glass standing on the bridge.
(read the rest of the story on our website)

Letter from a Recent Volunteer: Dr. Allen Kaplan
One never knows what to expect when they travel to foreign lands. That's certainly what I was feeling when I stepped off the plane and entered the both tropical and intriguing island of Roatan. Sure I had done my research. I checked out all the websites designed by the resorts and dive shops. I read Lonely Planet, Frommer's and other similar travel books. I even went as far as calling previous volunteers asking them about their time on the island. But nothing could prepare me for the experience I was about to embark on.

Nothing could prepare me for my very first patient. I had been waiting a couple of days freshening up on my limited Spanish and getting acclimated to the weather (hot and humid), food (lobsters and shrimp) and the people (a mix of Caribs, gringos and islanders.) So that Monday morning, I awoke early (around 6 am), went for a run in the village of Punta Gorda (which is beautifully situated on the water) and flung my stethoscope around my shoulders. My first patient was in her 30s and for the last couple of days was complaining of severe abdominal pain. Fever. Cramping. Diarrhea. Trouble urinating. I couldn't even touch her belly without her jumping off the exam table. And she didn't speak any English! What to do? What to do? In the United States, I would simply order a bunch of lab tests, get an abdominal x-ray (perhaps a CT) and probably get a surgical consult. Not in Roatan. Things are not so easy or accessible. Sure, you can get lab tests but you need to send them out to a town several miles away. X- rays are even more difficult to ascertain. There are only one or two surgeons on the entire island. In Roatan, I learned that it was more important to rely on your clinical acumen rather that on laboratory tests and specialists. So instead, we got a urine analysis and discovered some blood in her urine. Then I started an IV (which I learned to do in Roatan as well) and administered some intravenous fluids, pain medications and anti- nausea medications. We weren't exactly sure what was going on in her abdomen (perhaps kidney stones or perforated organ) but we knew we needed to take care of it the best way we could. And we did. After some fluids and medications, she felt much better and was stable enough to go to the mainland to get an ultrasound. About one week later we learned that she had appendicitis and her surgery had been successful. (read the rest of the letter on our

Letter from another volunteer: Dr. Eve Paretsky
From the moment Roatan appeared outside my airplane window, a jungle of Deep green in a sea of blue, to the morning I left I felt as though I was living in a world completely apart. My sense of urgency in everyday life faded quickly as I learned to relax and listen. I listened to my patients and tried to stretch the limits of my medical experience so that I could help come to a diagnosis without the benefit of a battery of tests and studies. At night I listened to the frogs and crickets that populated the dense thicket behind the clinic where I sat reading in a hammock.

With Zeni's help I learned over the first few days how to recognize malaria and how to set up my own IV. I saw diseases I'd only read about and I saw the universal ailments like asthma, hypertension, and diabetes. Several times late in the evening a patient came by to knock on my apartment window and we trundled upstairs to the clinic so I could look at a scrape or bump.

Of course, medicine is only part of the experience. The people I met were kind and funny and caring. The island was beautiful and full of interesting corners to explore. The walk down to Punta Gorda from the clinic was education in itself. I went scuba diving for the first time in my life and spent hours floating face down in the water watching schools of fish glide through coral reefs. I can't imagine a better place to volunteer; a place where your reward is immediate and lasting.


Meet your Volunteer Coordinator
Volunteers, I feel like I know all of you, even though we've never met in person. But as the Volunteer Coordinator, I have the privilege of corresponding with you online as you prepare for your big adventures. And the best part of the job for me is reading about your experiences once you return home.

Couple of quick facts about me:
1. I am Dr. Worley's daughter.
2. I live on an island, but not Roatan (Kauai, Hawaii).
3. When I'm not helping to coordinate your trips and updating the website, I teach high school English and computers, study for my doctorate courses in Educational Technology, and spend time with my two very patient and understanding daughters.

For past volunteers, it's been a pleasure working with you and I hope we'll be emailing each other again to plan another trip to Roatan. And to the future volunteers, I'm looking forward to receiving those online applications! Without all of you, none of this incredible work would be possible. Thank you!


The Bay Islands of Honduras showcases natural beauty while raising funds
The Bay Islands of Honduras is a stunning coffee table book that showcases the natural beauty of Honduras and benefits the Doc Polo Galindo Clinic, which serves a population of more than 18,000 low-income Honduran families.

This bi-lingual (English/Spanish) book is filled with hundreds of full-color photographs accompanied by fascinating descriptions. If you have an interest in the Bay Islands, you will treasure this book. Nearly all the resorts on Roatan are selling it at as a beautiful way to remember the islands.

Please buy your copy now and $40 will be donated to the Doc Polo Galindo clinic, operated by From the Heart Foundation on Roatan, Honduras.

Purchase your own copy from the website here

Current Wish List I"A little goes a long way."
Our financial needs have increased as we continue to offer more services to the community. Your tax- deductible donations go a long way to help us continue to provide quality care.

We have a current list of needed medications and supplies on the wish list on our website.

Volunteers truly make our clinic a success. We are constantly adding volunteers to our schedule. Our most pressing needs are in the areas of family practice, pediatrics, dermatology or radiology. We also need some help from medical lab technicians and X-ray technicians to help organize systems in those departments.

If you have the skills listed above and are interested in volunteering at the clinic, please contact us immediately by email. To learn more about volunteering, visit our volunteer page on the website.

More volunteer information

By The Heart Foundation

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