The need is growing – word continues to spread about Partner for Surgery. We are the only ones who do what we do – bring volunteer medical triage and surgical teams to poor rural communities where medical care is so desperately needed. Some members of our small, hard working Guatemalan staff personally escort the medical professionals to the areas where they are needed, and translate from English to Spanish to the dozens of languages spoken among the indigenous people. But what sets us apart is our network of Health Promoters. Because most Guatemalans in the areas we serve have never received medical care and are afraid of hospitals, our first order of business is to build trust. The Health Promoters accomplish this because they live in the villages, among the people we serve, and inform and educate them about the services we offer. By the time a mission comes their way, patients know they can trust us and are anxious to be seen and helped.
Several times a year, we organize and lead a one-week Medical Triage Mission to a Guatemalan rural area. Usually, 2-4 volunteer medical professionals (doctors and nurses) from North America evaluate approximately 1000 patients. The doctors conduct examinations, educate patients about their health options, and typically identify a couple hundred surgical candidates. Doctors and nurses who serve return year after year. They tell us helping these grateful people reminds them why they entered the medical field. Click here if you would like to volunteer to serve.
The Health Promoters also participate in the Medical Triage Missions by helping with translation, social-economic study and scheduling of the patients referred for surgery.
What are the goals of a mobile medical mission?
To triage, identify and refer surgical candidates, screen and treat low grades of cervical dysplasia, and provide medical attention.
How can I help?
Sponsor a Mobile Medical Mission, volunteer your expertise, and get the word out about our programs!
What medical specialties are needed?
We need gynecologists, general surgeons, family practitioners, anesthesiologists, emergency medical physicians and pediatricians.
How long is a mission?
A typical schedule lasts 9 days, including travel to and from Guatemala.
- Saturday: Arrive at airport, travel to Antigua
- Sunday: Travel to rural area
- Monday: Clinic 1
- Tuesday: Clinic 2
- Wednesday: Cultural day
- Thursday: Clinic 3
- Friday: Clinic 4
- Saturday: travel to Antigua
- Sunday: Depart
How large is a team?
A team is made up of 2 to 4 medical professionals, each with a different specialty. Teams are accompanied by Partner for Surgery staff, translators, and Health Promoters from our Guatemalan sister organization, Asociación Compañero Para Cirugía.
What types of patients do you serve?
Our patients live in rural areas, most of them in extreme poverty, on less than $1 a day. Over half suffer from chronic malnutrition. We serve patients who suspect they need surgery. We also treat patients with infections and skin conditions. We schedule patients for general surgeries (hernias, gallstones, non-cancerous masses), plastic surgery (burns, skin contractures, extra or fused digits on hands or feet, cleft lip and palate), and gynecology (fibroids, prolapsed uterus). Partner for Surgery does not refer orthopedic, cancer, neurological, organ transplant, or any surgery that is considered an emergency or that would require blood transfusions, but rather informs patients of available options. Most frequently we help those with conditions that would be easily remedied in North America but face considerable obstacles to impoverished Guatemalans.
For example, Dominga came to us with a very large hernia she had been carrying for years. See her before and after photos below.
What are the typical outcomes of a mission?
Medical care for 500 patients in 4 communities.
- 150 patients referred for general, plastic or gynecological surgery
- 300 women screened for pre-cancerous cervical lesions using the VIA method
- 15 women treated for low grade cervical dysplasia with Cryotherapy
I am a gynecologist. How can I help?
By evaluating women to determine their eligibility for surgery, and also by providing support to Ministry of Health nurses using VIA/Cryo methods (familiarity with VIA/Cryo methods is a requirement for participation). Click here to learn more about Partner for Surgery’s Cervical Cancer Screening Program and the training programs we coordinate.
What are the participation requirements?
Volunteers must be in good physical health, as the days are sometimes long and demanding, travel can be rugged, and accommodations are basic. Flexibility, team spirit and sense of humor are also important qualities.
What if I don’t speak Spanish?
Spanish language skill is a plus, but it is not a requirement. Both Spanish and Mayan translators will be assigned to you.
How much does it cost?
We ask volunteers to donate $1,200 to help defray medical mission expenses, in addition to paying your own airfare.
I would like to volunteer! What’s the next step?
Can my spouse come too?
Priority is given to medical volunteers, PfS staff, translators, and Mobile Medical Mission sponsors. If there is space, your spouse is welcome to join us. Your spouse will also need to donate $1,200 and complete the Volunteer Application and Release and Waiver of Liability.
I would like to sponsor a Mobile Medical Mission. How do I do that?
The sponsorship fee is $3,000 and helps cover the cost of rural radio programs, diagnostic testing, in-country logistics and support. It also entitles you to participate as a non-medical support volunteer and help with logistics. Click here if you would like to sponsor a Mobile Medical Mission.
Are my participation and donations tax-deductible?
Partner for Surgery is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.
I have additional questions. Whom should I contact?