Friday, June 4, 2010

Jeanie reporting

This adventure has cometo an end but the people that we have worked with will forever grow in our hearts.  I continually reflect back on our experience and it was so special to have been a part of this journey.  We have all grown both as professionals and as individuals building life skills. 

This experience truly cannot be replicated.  It was so incredible to be able to share our experience with Dr. Grillo and his team.  With the entire team, we were able to provide complete dental treatments and relief our clients of pain.

I often think of all the clients that we have worked on and truly miss them all.  I am so pleased to have such great memories and will continue to reflect upon them as I embark on a new journey. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Until next year...

Saying goodbye at the airport to Pedro and Daniel.

Arrived in Calgary (overnight layover) that evening and found ourselves shivering outside the airport while we waited for our shuttle to our hotel.

Home at last!
Victoria International Airport, May 22, 2010
(missing from photo, Emma, Tanis, Robin)

As we end another year of dental hygiene field school in Mexico, we would like to say one final thank you to everyone who was involved in making this field school happen.  As a teacher, this experience epitomizes for me what service-learning is all about. It was a privilege to teach with this group of students, who came into this project with their eyes, arms, and hearts open. There were many lessons learned from a personal and professional level. It is my hope that they continue to reflect on this experience with pride and humility in knowing that their service to the community made a difference in people's lives.  Salud!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Candyce Reporting.....

For me, it was a difficult transition back into the busy lifestyle of Canadians.  Also, coming back into normal dental hygiene practice was a little overwhelming.  I had to really take my time and think about where I needed to be sitting to ensure that my ergonomics were proper.  This experience had such an impact on me, I hope that I will always remember appreciation that the people in San Pancho had for us.  I hope that everyonehas a chance to do this in their lifetime, as this was a great learning experience for me.  I will be back next year for sure!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Danielle reporting...

Our travels have come to an end and we have been home for one week. It has been a transition back into life and routine, especially since it has been raining and cold in Victoria since we've returned. As I reflect on our experiences, I am grateful for the knowledge that I have gained about the culture of San Pancho and the relationships that we established. It was amazing to live, breathe and eat San Pancho and to feel as though we had our place within the community. I have grown both personally and professionally and will carry the skills that I have learned with me in my future practices as a dental hygienist.

Sarah Reporting

Well, we have been home for the last week now so I have had a bit of time to reflect on the time that we spent in San Pancho.  I learned so much clinically, especially in the last five clinic days, whether it be coaching from Ada, the input of my partner for the day or getting new tips and tricks from Jane.  It was such a fun and different learning experience, though the days were long, hot, and sweaty, fans helped when we had them.  The people and volunteers we met were amazing- so welcoming and helpful and clients were extremely appreciative and open to learning.  There is so much work that still needs to be done in this community, but I was really glad that I could be a part of this project now, and hope that I can help out with it in the future.       

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kellie reporting...

So we are all safely home and it didn't take long to adjust to life back at home.  I don't miss waking up to roosters or being bitten by the mosquito's that seemed to love me so much, but I will miss everything else.  I will miss the feeling we came to know of being welcomed into such a small tight knit community and people stopping to say hello as you walk through town.  Being home makes it blatantly apparent just how different our two cultures are. 
The people of San Pancho have taught me so much.  I've always been pretty easy going, but now I've learned to 'go with the flow' and that whatever happens, "it's no problem."  Something I didn't need reinforcement on was procrastination, which I'm already great at, because here they are famous for saying there's always tomorrow.  After spending time in San Pancho we realized why we didn't see a single client with elevated blood pressure.
In Mexico, clinically, I experienced plenty of tenacious calculus that I was beginning to think was tooth structure because it certainly wasn't going anywhere!  And, "if it's not changing, move on."  Clients like these provided me with my greatest learning experience.  I learned that the file and the ultrasonic are my two best friends.  Friends that I was not utilizing to their full potential back home.  Spending much more time than I was previously with the ultrasonic on each tooth surface with these difficult clients and lightening my grasp even further has greatly improved my ultrasonic end point.  Having completed clients such as these has worked wonders for my confidence as I feel I have the ability and problem solving skills to accomplish whatever lies ahead. 
I will miss the gratitude and patience of the people in Mexico and will never lose the life lessons I have taken from this experience.  I love 'San Pancho Life' and am excited to return next year to assist the following class however possible.  Adios

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Robin reporting..........

Over the last 30 days I have learned an enourmous amount about the person I am and who I want to be. Partaking in the smile project has allowed me to expand on my communication skills, build my confidence, and increase my knowledge about the Mexican culture. This field study to San Pancho has enabled me to utilize my clinical and didactic knowledge which I have gained at Camosun College. This experience has by far exceeded my expectations and I will cherish it forever.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Emma reporting....

So our journey has come to an end and what a journey it has been. I have experienced and learned a lot in both my personal life and my school/career life. This place has continuously reminded me of many values that you tend to push to the side when you are at home busy with school and work. Some of these values are taking each day as it comes and living in the moment, rather than worrying about the future, as well to do what makes you happy and learn what makes you happy by communicating, listening and trying new things. Finally, the people of San Pancho have reminded me of the importance of friends and family. Everyone here is very close and would do anything for each other, it is a very supportive community. In regards to clinic, I have come to appreciate what we do as dental professionals even more than I did before. It is here that I have learned how different a healthy mouth can make people feel both physically and emotionally. People here greatly appreciate the services that we provide because it is not common practice for the locals to go for their regular dental/dental hygiene visits, in fact it has never happened for a lot of these people. I will take this experience and further understanding with me into practice and hope to improve my ability to communicate this to my future clients. Thank you to all the people of San Pancho who have provided such a rich learning experience for me.

Danielle reporting...

I have learned what it means to be a part of a small community because I have observed how each member plays a vital role to ensure that the health and well being of all are being met. I admire the contributions and volunteer hours community members spent to aid in the success of 'Proyecto Sonrisa' and I am enthusiastic that the educational programs implemented in the community when we leave will continue to encourage awareness of oral health.

Today we pack....

Our flight to Calgary leaves @ 5pm today from Puerto Vallarta and we'll be in Victoria by 1pm tomorrow. Yesterday, the students took a well-deserved excursion/adventure tour 1.5 hour south from San Pancho while I spent most of the day tying loose ends and relaxing and spending time with Glades and family.

It's been another incredible journey, filled with lessons and revelations about ourselves and our surroundings, and a greater understanding and awareness of what service really means. We are leaving San Pancho with a little piece of our hearts behind. We've felt a deep connection with this pueblo and the people who live here. We know how much they appreciated our  presence and the work that we did but we are the richer for it for having been here and spending time with them.

We look forward to coming home and being with our loved ones once again. See you all soon.

Below is a picture of the beautiful sunset  yesterday....

Meeting with the hospital dentists and Dr. Monica, sub-head director

This was our last official activity before we all head home. Our unscheduled meeting with Dr. Monica, the sub-director of the hospital and the two resident dentists was very successful. We left feeling very supported and eager to get going on the next step for our project. Dr. Grillo described the situation at the hospital very clearly on his last entry and I am very pleased to know that he has the resources to help them out as soon as he is able. Thank you Greg for your ideas and generous spirit. This is the start of a turning point for San Pancho's hospital dental clinic.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tanis Reporting

It is our last night in San Pancho and I am very sad to be leaving.  This has been our home for the last 30 days and we have been truly fortunate to be a part of this community.  It was very hard to take down our units at our last dental clinic on Tuesday, as this meant we were nearing the end.  I have learned so much about the community in the last month and feel that my clinical skills have improved since I first arrived.  This externship has enabled me to assess where my clinical skills were at when we arrived and then allow me to focus on areas that needed improvement.  The extended clinic hours guided this focus, along with the coaching from Ada, Dr. Grillo, Jane, and my daily partner.  I have also improved my caries assessment skills, as many children and adults in San Pancho that we screened and treated had caries.  Overall, this has been a wonderful experience and I feel that this has enriched my life personally and as a dental hygienist.     

Bethany reporting

It has been a great experience here in Mexico.  The time has flown by giving me plenty of learning opportunities.  One thing I have learned is how important it is to immerse yourself in the community so you can help a large group rather than just one person.  Just going to the schools here in San Pancho has taught me that our contribution can reach the entire community.  The children go home, tell their families what they have learned and they in turn tell their neighbours.  It creates an exponential effect and I am glad that I was a part of it.

5 days straight...

Our dental clinic at EntreAmigos provided a new setting and welcomed a new addition to this year's field school. On Saturday, May 14th,  Dr. Grillo and his staff joined forces with us to promote oral health and  provide dental services to the people of San Pancho.

The following pictures document 5 days, 51 hours, 30 minutes, 2 seconds of clinic days at EntreAmigos. ;-)

THURSDAY, May 13th was set-up day.  EntreAmigos had sinks, bathrooms, a refrigerator, and ample space for us to create 5 dental hygiene units, one overflow, one dental unit, a reception area and one waiting area. Here's what it looked like on the evening of the set-up.

Before the ultrasonic machines were set up.

All the water bottles are being filled for the portable ultrasonic units.

We were done for the night! Now, we are off to dinner  before the big day.  Thank you ladies for your great organizational skills.

FRIDAY, May 14th 2010
How we managed to not trip on each other is beyond me.  There were hoses and electrical cords where the flow of traffic would normally be but we were accident-free for the 5 days that we were there. The vacuum cleaner suction was right in the middle of the units to accommodate 4 chairs, as well as Dr. Grillo's unit.

Here's our vacuum unit. We misplaced the vacuum hose from our last clinic at the hospital and had to quickly fashion one from a tubing and lots of clear tape bought at a nearby hardware store. We have become quite resourceful.

Everyone rotated through different partners, which worked really well. They were also coaching each other and checking each other's work. They were beginning to get comfortable in evaluating each other's skill level, including their tactile sensitivity.

Danielle and Jeanie treated this couple. They were so grateful and full of smiles after several hours in the chair.

SATURDAY, May 15th. Dr. Grillo is joining us today. Below is Danielle massaging Emma's neck in preparation for the long day ahead. ;-)

Dr. Grillo brought a lounging chair from his rented house to be his dental chair for the next 4 days. Here's the dental corner of the building. The portable unit you see in the foreground worked well for his purposes, except for the suction. Jackie, his receptionist/interpreter (in the background) was essential to the team as she was able to convey to Dr. Grillo queries and concerns that his patients have about their oral health needs. In turn, they were also able to converse back.

We were just about to begin our day. Kellie and Sarah are seating in the reception area.

Our waiting room. Not bad, eh?

The quiet before the storm.

Here's another view of the wait area from the inside. This is where we also ate our lunches.

A condensed health history and a consent form was completed at the beginning of each appointment.

Blood pressure measurements were also taken.

Bethany assisting with a light while Tanis and Robin looked on as Dr. Grillo completes a restoration.

Jane, the hygienist was a tremendous help with our students and to myself. She not only assisted, but also offered coaching and scale checks. She also had patients of her own which was much appreciated, as we had a waiting list everyday of people who wanted to come in and that we couldn't accommodate.

Kellie preparing for an injection on Dr. Grillo's patient as he offers guidance. The students were very happy to work with Dr. G. They mentioned that his teaching style was very calming and informative and helped much with their confidence level.  Many of them have not done an injection for some time so they were a bit nervous. They also completed injections on their own patients.

Here's Bethany completing one on her patient, as Robin helps with the light. By the end of the clinic session, every student had completed 1-3 injections.

This was the dreaded job at the end of the day...but everyone HAD to do it. Today, it was Jeanie and Danielle who were in charged. Emptying a full day of "patient juice" from the suction container into the sink took only a few minutes but there was a certain look and odor to it that was less than desirable.

Here's another view from the other side of the bathroom. That $%^@-eating grin from Becky behind them can only mean that she's already had her turn. That little bugger!

I took a picture of the ladies at the end of Day two. Here we are in front of EntreAmigos. Earlier, we broke into a "Feliz Compleanos" song for Kellie. It was her birthday this day and we thought that we'd celebrate with a dinner to a special restaurant later that evening. This picture was taken at around 7pm.

Even after a long 11 hour day, we were at the restaurant till closing time at 11pm. The chef came out with a guitar and song, along with our waiter and hostess to sing to Kellie at the end of our dinner. It was a nice way to cap off another successful day.

SUNDAY,  May 16th:  Dr. Grillo joined us for our daily pre-clinic huddle. After the huddle, we do our morning stretches and partner-massages before our team cheer.  

Here's Robin, ready to greet our first patient of the day. Rolling up the scrub pants helped to keep our bodies cool. It was probably over 20 degrees by 9am.

Jeanie completing one of her local anesthesia injections.

Ouch Danielle.  Later we added an "aerobic step stool" at the foot of the beach chairs to further recline it for a more improved accessibility to the posterior areas. Sarah was Danielle's partner this day.

A view of our clinic. To the right of this picture are two more dental hygiene units. They each had the portable suction that were recently purchased from donations generated by the students

This is one of our success stories. You saw a picture of him and his family earlier when we treated them at the hospital.  Today, he was here for a dental consult with Dr. Grillo. Dr. G was also impressed with his oral findings; no decay, minimal mobility and healthy periodontal tissues. The second picture is of his right hand. I took a picture of it as he was very proud of the progress that he has made with his dexterity skills. 

Robin completing an injection on Dr. Grillo's restorative client.

Thank you Robin and Sarah. As they were exiting the building at the end of the day, they found a couple who were selling churros (mexican donuts) at the back of their truck. They returned back to the clinic with churros for everyone. Another  perfect way to end our day.

SUNDAY, May 17th:  Jane assisting with a light as Candyce applied local anesthetic on her client. Her ambidextrosity(is that a word?) came in handy as she usually works on her right side. With the small quarters that we had to work under, her ability to move from one side to the other comfortably was an asset.

This is Jill, our interpreter for the morning and Javier. He has early childhood caries. He told Jill that he doesn't like to drink water as it doesn't taste very good. He usually has Coke with all his meals. It's no wonder. He patiently waited for hours as his mother was being treated by Tanis.

Dogs and children were a common sight at our clinic. The little girl's name is Oma, Luz' daughter who was one of our interpreters.

Becky says, "I'm going in!" A purposeful stance prior to her injection. 

Here I am with Tanis. Rolling more into the concave areas of teeth and activating from the base of the deposit during scaling was what everyone needed to work on but improvement was evident after each day of practice.

We finished at 5pm this day. At 7:30, we met everyone at Dr. G's rented house where a lady prepared dinner of fajitas and vanilla flan for everyone. Lisa, Dr. Grillo's wife took this picture. Don, the gentleman on the far left of the picture owns this house and lives here 8 months of the year. He is also a resident of White Rock, BC. A small world.

Relaxing by the salt-water pool at the end of the day.

It was going to be a 15-20 minute walk back in the dark to our home in the at the end of the evening, Don offered to take us all back in the back of his truck. Of course, we took him up on his offer. 5 minutes later, we were home for a good night's sleep. Tomorrow was going to be our last day at EntreAmigos.

Kellie, Danielle, Robin, and Candyce chose to walk along the beach. It was another warm night and the moon guided them home.

TUESDAY,  May 18th. This is day 5 for us and we were feeling fatigue but extremely satisfied of the work that we were doing. There was much work to be done as people were showing up wanting appointments but we have been booked full for days. It was unfortunate and very sad to have to turn people away but they were very understanding. Note the aerobic step stool propping the beach chair back. This incline provided better access for Bethany on the maxillary posterior areas.

Below is Becky treating Paulina, one of our interpreters/school presenters. I deemed today as "casual Tuesday" for one primary reason. My excuse was I didn't have enough time to take my scrubs to the laundrymat so had to resort to my regular clothes. Most students wore their scrubs (they were more organized than I was), but Robin, Jeanie, Becky and I came with wearing t-shirts.  Robin and I proudly wore our lucha libre t-shirts.

Lunch Break!!! Today was a choice of marinated tofu or ham tortas with chips, oatmeal cookies, and iced tea. Kellie sharing her meal with one of the dogs that frequents our clinics.

What could possibly be Greg talking about to generate such curious looks from Danielle and Jackie? On the other hand, he may have had too much to eat and D and J are giving him a  hard time.

It's almost closing time.  There was a bit of surrealism as we started to disassemble and pack away our equipment. We feel like we were just getting in the groove and becoming such a part of the daily activities of the building. Here's Jeanie putting away the ultrasonic kits.

At the end of the day, Glades presented everyone with gifts from EntreAmigos, EscueladelMundo, and local artists in town. We also shared a delicious chocolate cake. It became emotional for many of us. 

Delicious chocolate goodness!!!

Fernanda, one of the children who was in the biblioteca at the time, wrote a thank you card to Becky and presented it to her before we left.

Below are more kids who made cards for the rest of the team. 

Final packing of supplies. We left all of the self-care aids behind for future endeavours, such as the monthly oral health presentations at EntreAmigos. 

Farewell to Sherri, (Greg's amazing assistant), Jackie, Jane, and Greg. This is a picture of all of them as they packed all of their supplies back into suitcases and about to board their rented van.

Tomorrow, Greg, Jackie and I meet at the hospital to try to catch the hospital director for an unscheduled meeting. We also wanted to view the dental clinic one more time and have an opportunity to talk to the two female dentists there.