PCOM students document Ecuador
October 8, 2009 (WPVI) -- PCOM students spent the summer documenting a medical mission with our camera in Ecuador.
Working with the group "Physicians for Humanity" they assisted in medical clinics treating the countries poor and under served.
The first year medical students also visited schools to help educate children about healthy living.
"Being able to understand what it's like to selflessly help and take that back with us," said PCOM student Huyen Nguyen.
The images are overwhelming.
The state of poverty is eye opening.
"Walking to the clinic, just seeing the community the homes on stilts and just barrels of water that sit for a week, it was amazing just very surreal," she added.
Eight students from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine spent this summer working alongside doctors in Ecuador.
The first year medical students used their knowledge to help assist in clinics located in the poor coastal city of Duran.
That community lacks medical supplies and healthcare is often limited.
"A lot of the patients will come in with a lot of advanced disease because one they don't have the money and two they can't take time off from work," Nguyen said.
Medical students Huyen Nguyen and Christine Pulice said the lack of infrastructure and unsanitary conditions contributed to illness in the area.
And, because of those conditions, the students often treated patients for diseases and ailments including leprosy, asthma, and respiratory issues.
"The way they work they carry things on their head so they have a lot of muscular issues," said Nguyen.
The PCOM students were able to help treat that ailment with a technique called OMM.
It's a procedure they studied closely this year at PCOM.
"We're able to diagnose and treat dysfunctions through with our hands through palpation," she said.
Pulice not only helped out in the medical clinic but also at a school in the poor marsh land community of El Compo.
"Children walk miles to get to this one room school house," added student Christine Pulice.
There she did important health assessments, taking vital signs and measurements as well as educating on vaccinations, proper nutrition and importance of good hygiene.
"There, they don't think of just washing their hands all the time," added Pulice.
Part of her time was helping to assist in the maternity clinic.
Where she said women often stand in long lines in sweltering heat for hours for prenatal care.
"They would come in just about to burst and maybe they hadn't seen a doctor at all yet," she added.
Both Christine and Huyen say regardless of the conditions, it was an experience they'll hold close to their hearts.
"It meant so much to them, it was just so very touching," added Nguyen.
For monetary donations: Physicians for Humanity http://physiciansforhumanity.org/
Doctors who want to donate medical supplies, please contact Patrick Cain at email@example.com
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