Monday, April 30, 2012

A post from Merlita...

It’s been just over a week since we’ve been here and I’ve learned more about the Mexican culture and the history of San Pancho than I thought I would in such a short time. While in school we learned about the social determinants of health and in Victoria you can see the different levels of wealth and education, but, here in San Pancho it appears that the locals are all at the same level. The lack of oral health education and the communities attitude towards oral health is clearly evident after our oral screenings because of the amount of decay found. It would be interesting to see if it is the same in other small towns in Mexico. However, we were told that the community has come a long way since our program has been coming here. 

After our hospital orientation, talking to the sub-director,  and talking to the dentist,  the impact of low socioeconomic status as a barrier is also evident. People will choose not to miss a day's work for a dental issue or even a medical issue, because this could jeopardize their ability of  putting food on the table. Dr. Christian, the dentist in the hospital, was telling us that when people do come in with pain related to dental issues it’s usually too late for him to treat and then he has to send them to the next town, which is about a 2.5 hour drive, to get the care that they need. With that comes it's own challenges.

The hospital itself seem to have a progressive health care approach (e.g. early child care programs, psychological therapy for those who seek it, birth control programs, etc.)  but the locals don’t seem to take advantage of it. Traditional values and use of family remedies passed down from generations take precedent over seeking medical attention.

I am learning that education and prevention of oral disease should be our focus. Help them help themselves, and in the years to come keep watching the decrease in the rate of decay...  hopefully.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

a post from Katie...

Our first experience within San Pancho’s education system took us to the local Jardin del Nino (Kindergarten) school.  Located along the main strip, the school’s perimeter is covered with colourfully vibrant paintings that clearly reflect the social atmosphere of this wonderful little village.  We walked into the classroom a little unsure of what to expect with the language barrier, the students’ level of knowledge, how to efficiently screen 47 children and how on earth we were supposed to fit into those little chairs!  The teachers and staff warmly welcomed us into their classroom, which didn’t consist of much other than the general basic classroom necessities.  

Our interpreter, Indira led the presentation in Spanish on the importance of oral health, while we assisted the children with their toothbrushing technique.  The children actively offered answers and asked questions through out the presentation and I was amazed at how respectful and engaged they were.  I think I speak for us all when I say that it was pretty surprising to see the condition of some of these children’s mouths and the prevalence of early childhood caries for this age group.  I was especially caught off guard when I came across a young girl with an abscessed central incisor where the gingiva has recessed halfway up the tooth’s root – she is 5!  

Providing screenings and applying fluoride varnish just doesn’t seem like enough considering the level of attention that some of these children need. Hopefully the impact that we have on their perceptions of oral health is enough to make even a small difference on how they value oral and overall health.  Considering the conditions of many of the mouths we assessed today and the general limitations on accessibility to health care resources, spirits are high with an admirable emphasis on family values.  This came clear to me when the moms, dressed head to toe in costumes fully equipped with home made musical instruments, came together and surprised the children with a music and dance production after school.  Already I have learned a lot from being here and am really looking forward to the days ahead!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Was it something we ate? is now over and three out of the 6 of us are now almost fully functioning! Whatever it was that we caught, lots of water, rest, Gravol, Tylenol, and Imodium were close at hand. In any case, I was proud of the group as we forged on to our commitments of seeing children in the Jarden del Nino (Kindergarten) and the Escuela de Primaria (Primary Schools).

Last Monday, we also toured the hospital, met several of the hospital officials, and were shown where we would be setting up our makeshift dental hygiene clinic.

Today, we took advantage of the no-school day to visit the nearby town of La Pineta. More pictures to come later.

The five senoritas (Merlita, LeAndra, Katriana, Corina, Mitchell)-their new Mexican names

Wearing a blazer seemed out of place but it was 9am and it was cooler.

The waiting room of the Hospital General.

Meeting Dr. Ortega for the first time, translation provided by our host coordinator, Glades.

Inside the two-dental chair clinic and meeting Dr. Cristian.

After being shown a quick tour of the dental clinic and a long discussion of how oral health and health is viewed in Mexico, we took this group photo.

Both doctors showing us other parts of the hospital.

Just prior to entering the emergency ward, more discussion on the impact of culture, economy, and values on oral health and health of the Mexican people.

Back at the hotel in preparation for the school visits for the next two days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A post by Coreen...

As we arrived in the small fishing village of San Pancho,  we were embraced with warm welcomes.  The one thing that struck me the most about this town was how friendly the local people are.  Culturally, the people of San Pancho have very strong roots in tradition and value close family ties.  Despite the strong sense of family, there appears to be a disconnect between the association of lifestyle factors and oral disease.  On our first visit to one of the primary schools we performed screenings and provided education and fluoride varnish. Early childhood decay was quite evident!  However, the over all number of tooth caries has declined since the first year that the Camosun field study first began! (according to our interpreter and Ada).  It was neat to see how much of an impact early education and prevention has on this  community.  During our presentation it was revealed that the majority of the children did not have toothbrushes.  Being able to provide toothbrushes and teach them how to use them felt very rewarding. The children were very receptive of our presence and their openess to our treatment was inspiring.

After the morning session the mothers of the children held a musical presentation for their children.  I had the chance to talk with one of the mothers of one of the children with the help of an interpreter and it was evident that the parent was genuinely concerned with the health of the child's teeth!  I felt this experience to be very rewarding and the positive impact will have a lasting effect to the families involved!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arrived in San Pancho yesterday...

Our bags were thoroughly inspected by the Mexican customs officers but none confiscated. They asked questions regarding the costs of the equipment that we were bringing in and to see a document of where we were going to be. We provided both and they sent us on our way.

A short stop at Bucerias to pick up a few supplies, a slow drive to San Pancho, and we were there by suppertime. The non-stop flight to PVR seems shorter this year. It was a balmy 28 degrees when we arrived. This was a welcomed change from the 9 degrees that we left in Victoria.

Aisle 19 

Scarves and jackets are put away for four weeks!
 Katie will be joining us  the next day.

Entering the town of San Pancho.

Meryl and Coreen trying out sun hats at the Malecon.

On our walk this morning, we stopped to see the inside of the Catholic church.

Pre-breakfast morning walk.

Back at the hotel to organize supplies.

Leandra is having too much fun putting client gloves away.

Katie joined us today.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The 2012 Dental Hygiene Mexico Field School will soon be underway.

Greetings to our followers. For the FS alumni, you guys are familiar with the drill. The bags are packed and we are ready to go!  We leave early morning Saturday. A nice non-stop flight to Puerto Vallarta by Westjet Airlines, a short stop in Bucerias, to pick up supplies,  and we'll be in San Pancho by dinner time. Several months of planning is coming to fruition. It is getting easier every year as we now know what our needs are and what to expect. I tell the students that being flexible and adaptable is what I will require of them. I have no doubt that they will all rise to the occasion.

Below is a picture of them today reviewing the Spring Term Expectations in Mexico. This was the afternoon to pack bags. Thank you to Dr. Amil Shapka of Kindness in Action for lending us ultrasonic units to bring with us and thank you to all the dental suppliers who have generously donated to ensure that we have instruments, self-care aids, gloves, masks, etc. for our work there.

Hasta pronto.