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Hump Day by Rich Lopez

dscn1696Wednesday, “Hump Day” means we’re half way through the 19th BCH Medical Mission.  After the morning meeting, Anne asked me to work in the pharmacy to fill in for Marjorie Hutchings.  Marjorie is a member of the BCH Auxiliary and wanted to see her friend, Charlie Jones, in surgery.  My job was to assist our pharmacist, Laurel Blissett.  My qualifications for this job were an ability to count to ten in multiples of five (counting pills).  “I can do that!”  Tucked away in the corner of the four-stall exam room is a six feet by six foot pharmacy with a small table bookcase and three chairs.  Our interpreter is Vanessa, a fifteen-year-old student who lived in Florida for seven years. She attended a dual immersion bilingual school there is perfectly bilingual and very mature for her age.  I learned that Laurel had just finished giving the Wednesday morning lecture to the nursing students.

Anne asked Laurel to give the lecture to the nursing students just a few days ago.  Although she was initially nervous about public speaking, she felt honored and a sense of responsibility to share her knowledge with the students who might never receive this information during their schooling.  They asked questions and later Laurel was thanked time and time again for her talk.  She was a role model for many of the students, both because she was a female and her youth.  She will turn 28 in three weeks, but some of the students thought she looked like she is 15 years old.

Wednesday turned out to be a special day for Laurel.  Eric Diaz, the local coordinator for the medical mission, walked in and handed Laurel a note.  He said the gentleman in the doorway asked him to give it to Laurel.  She looked out, saw a young man in a red shirt.  He waived to her, she waived back and then asked Eric to translate the note.  It was a very polite and formal from a journalist who was “smitten” by Laurel.  She blushed, looked to the doorway and he was gone.

dscn1702As I was walking to lunch, I noticed a familiar figure across the Courtyard.  I turned and walked toward the person for a better look and realized it was Florian Lopez, the muralist who painted the Mural at the Dairy Center.  I called out and we saw each other.  After a warm hug we talked about our respective families, work and made plans for lunch.  Florian lived with us for two months when he came to Boulder to paint the mural.  Each morning we would have breakfast together and then he would ride a bike down to the Dairy where he would continue painting the beautiful mural. The mural is symbolic of the BCH Medical Mission and incorporates images of both countries.  I took him over to the lunch area and introduced him to the medical team and explained that he was the muralist who painted the mural that many had seen.  He invited everyone to a sculpture exhibition that was in the Ramon Cano Gallery.

dscn1703The afternoon proceeded quickly, with fewer young children than expected. That meant that these pediatric doctors could now see adults, shortening the lines of people.  Marjorie returned around three o’clock with stories of Charlie Jones in action.  This year we are experiencing a shortage of anesthesiologists which limit the number of surgeries that can be performed.  An idle surgeon is a horrible thing to waste.  To compensate, Charlie and other surgeons carefully scheduled those surgeries that required general anesthesia and performed as many surgeries that could be done under local anesthesia.  The problem stemmed from a commitment that local anesthesiologist would be available.  You work with what you have.

Tonight, I was invited to join several of the team leaders for a dinner with Presidente Hector Lopez, the mayor of Mante.  The term for mayors in Mexico is limited to three years, with no opportunity for reelection.  Presidente Lopez is a physician who had previously been the director of the State Health Department.  The Presidente, his wife and son arrived at a nearby restaurant a bit late.  His schedule this week is packed with preparations for the Fifth Annual Governor’s Roundup.  This is a one day horseback ride through the corners of three adjoining states.  The three governors, mayors and other dignitaries assemble for a fiesta on Friday night and on Saturday the make the long ride through remote villages and countryside.  Saturday night caps off the event with another fiesta.  This year Mante is the starting point, so the Presidente will be unable to join our farewell Fiesta on Friday.  He apologized for being late, explaining that preparations and some last minute horseback riding lessons delayed him.  During the evening the BCH Mission director, Mike Moran, provided an update on the mission and the anesthesiologists shortage.  Presidente Lopez vowed to engage the federal and state offices of DIF to put out the call for anesthesiologists for next year.  We hope it works.

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