By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera
February 16, 2010: Yesterday was a dichotomy between treating patients is horrible conditions and the pomp of speeches and ceremonies. Both are important, but the day presented the Clinic team with many challenges. The temperature fell to the low 50’s and the blustery wind created a bone chilling environment. The Clinic patients sit in school chairs outside, usually under the shade of large tents to protect them from the sun or rain. Patients were ill-prepared for the cold and arrived with sweaters or light jackets at best. This is Mante remember. It is rarely cold, but yesterday was different. Patients shivered quietly waiting their turn to speak to a doctor. The triage team filled out the patient information forms, translating from Spanish to English. Elderly patients shivered uncontrollably. When it came time to take their blood pressure, they were asked to remove their jackets.
In the unheated Lab, nurses were unable to draw blood because of the cold. They would prick a finger and had to milk it for a few drops to test. Veins were hard to find no matter how many times the arm was searched. Finally, calls were made and a space heater appeared. It took a bit longer for blankets to arrive. No one complained. A si es.
Two back to back opening ceremonies were planned. One to officially honor the Mante Medical Mission and the other to open the art show, “El Espiritu de las Ciudades Hermanas.” Although the governor was scheduled to attend both, he didn’t show. Word was that his helicopter couldn’t fly from Ciudad Victoria in the bad weather.
The art show was literally transported in four suitcases from Boulder. Paintings are small, 6 x 8, 9 x 12 or 12 x 16. The kites are huge by comparison, but can be disassembled and rolled up. At the last minute we decided to bring a banner of The Dairy Center mural. Once in place, the gallery looked like it could be one of many in Boulder. Later Antonia, one of the Mante teachers who visited Boulder, commented, “Mi siento como estuviera en Boulder“”I feel like I’m in Boulder.”
When we think of the Boulder Mante Medical Mission we think on Dr. David Rodriguez. He is a remarkable, inspiring man. I could spend countless hours telling stories of his work, or write chapters upon chapters describing his actions to bring medical care to his people. Over 70,000 patients have been seen during the 20 years of the mission. “Muchos ciegos ven, muchos sordos oygen y mucho delor es mitigator.” Many blind (now) see, many deaf (now) hear and much pain (has been) alleviated.