Dr. Cockburn and his wife Judy, as well as Kristine Willis, RN (currently working in surgery at Holy Cross Hospital) left for San Raymundo, Guatemala on a medical mission. They departed on October 23rd, arrived at their destination on October 24th and will return home on November 1.
This is the second year Dr. Cockburn and Judy will attend this medical mission. It is the first time for Kristine. The mission is through Refuge International. Refuge takes three teams to San Raymundo the last weeks in February and October of each year and the first week in August. Each trip provides much needed care to the impoverished people of Guatemala. The patients cared for are only able to receive medical treatment through medical mission groups like Refuge. There is very little access to healthcare throughout the country.
“I decided to go on the mission again this year to continue the care of a patient I had last year,” said Dr. Cockburn. “Every day is diffe
rent. You really don’t know what you’re going to see. Weeks before we arrive trucks drive around the villages announcing when we’ll be there. Then people come from all over the area to receive medical care. They only get medical services about 4 times per year, they don’t have healthcare like we do here.”
Last year when Dr. Cockburn was there the clinic saw about 580 patients during the week and he operated on about 12-14 patients per day, in three operating rooms. He anticipates similar numbers again this year.
As volunteers, the Cockburn’s and Kristine are paying for their own airfare, room and board, as well as other expenses to provide medical care to the poor in Guatemala. Kristine is hoping to take down school supplies for the children. The Cockburn’s are planning to take toothbrushes, toothpaste, and vitamins.
“A medical mission has been on my bucket list for a while, I guess since I received my RN,” said Kristine. “I think it will be life changing and I’m really excited to go with Dr. Cockburn. He’s been there before and I’m really comfortable working with him.”
San Raymundo is located in the highlands one hour northwest of Guatemala City. Groups of volunteers include: physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, surgeons, nurses, translators, pharmacy staff, construction workers and other ancillary personnel. For more information about Refuge International visit their website www.refugeinternational.com/