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El Salvador 2019 – Day 4

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – Spotlight on Two Volunteers Photography by : Ellise Nicole Photography Written by : Susan Armstrong Today is Day 3 of Operations. The surgeons operated on ten patients from ages 3 to 30. Surgeries included several cleft palate repairs and fistula repair. Days 1 and 2’s rhythm continues, right up until the last patient has gone to Post-Operative Care. Let’s shine a spotlight on one volunteer duo: Tara & Shanon O’Neill, a mother-daughter team, respectively. Hailing from Blanco, Texas, Tara is an RN who commutes into Austin a few times a week for her shifts at Dell Seton Brackenridge hospital. Shanon is a sophomore at Blanco High School, who speaks fluent Spanish and wants to go to medical school. Before the summer of 2018, Shanon had participated in a couple of Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) to places like the Dominican Republic where she got to follow a doctor and take patient vitals. However, she wanted to...

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El Salvador 2019 – Day 3

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 – Establishing a Rhythm Photography by : Ellise Nicole Photography Written by : Susan Armstrong By day 3, El Salvador Austin Smiles volunteers have gotten into a rhythm. We operated on eleven new patients today, from cleft lip repair to rhinoplasty. We learned that the part of the hospital that we’re working in is not regularly used by the Military Hospital, but was used in World War II as the emergency room to treat soldiers. Despite some limitations, our volunteers have done a wonderful job of turning their area into an Operating Room to suit their needs. Our volunteers are able to respond to all types of situations. For example, nurses and surgeons adapt to working with different equipment than they’re used to in the United States. The PACU nurses and anesthesiologists respond to each individual patient’s post-operation reactions until they are ready to be moved to Post-Op Care. Post-Op must treat responses to the Operations...

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El Salvador 2019 – Day 2

El Salvador. Monday, February 11, 2019 Photography by : Ellise Nicole Photography Written by : Susan Armstrong What an amazing day. Austin Smiles (AS) performed ten surgeries today: five lip repairs and five palates. The youngest surgery was on three-month old Jonathan and the oldest on twenty-three year old Ronald. The AS bus arrived at the hospital by 7 AM, but not before patients and their families who had been at the hospital since 6 AM, as instructed. Patients are not allowed to eat or drink before their surgeries, so those with later surgeries (like four-year old Juan Carlos at 2:30 PM) were justifiably ready to get surgeries started. Despite being hungry and thirsty, everyone was incredibly patient. Children and young adults sat calmly with their families in a crowded hallway with nurses and staff running too and fro, faithfully taking direction from numerous professionals, waiting for their or their loved ones’ names to be called. Take Giselle who was...

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El Salvador 2019 – Day 1

Photography by : Ellise Nicole Photography Written by : Susan Armstrong Thirty plus Austin Smiles volunteers headed to Hospital Militar Central this morning at 7:30 AM for triage day – our first day at the hospital. Approximately 50 families from all over El Salvador were already patiently waiting for us. One family told us they woke up at 2 AM to arrive to San Salvador in time. Children as young as three months old and young adults as old as 26 years were seeking Austin Smiles’ help. The first hour was a little chaotic as each station got set up in its respective part of the hospital – Medical and Surgical Evaluation rooms were upstairs, Speech Therapy and Social Services downstairs. Speech and Social Services are new this year as Austin Smiles is beginning to offer its patients a fuller spectrum of services in all the areas needed. It wasn’t long before a each station had a rhythm. A nurse...

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