Chester County Hospital Foundation Donor Report

Serving at the Crossroads Founder Bob Sumner and his wife Pauline along with Dr. George Trajtenberg and his wife Adrianna were featured in the 2016 Chester County Foundation Donor Report for their work with Serving at the Crossroads and the Manos Amigas Clinic. 

The Chester County Hospital helped equip the operating room at the clinic, which opened in 2013. The Chester County Hospital Foundation paid tribute to Bob and Pauline's lifetime of service to Chester county and collaboration with the hospital and the regional medical teams led by Dr. Trajtenberg to provide community-based care around the globe. "Truly a legacy of caring for community -- near and far -- has been established for generations to follow."

Dr. Trajtenberg and his team from Chester County and surrounding counties are preparing for their fifth trip to Manos Amigas in March 2017. 

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A Night Celebrating Growth: the 2015 SATC Gala


As the first of the season's cool evening breezes blew through the early autumn night in Chester County, 250 guests—friends and patrons of SATC—gathered at the Mendenhall Inn for our Annual Gala to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year.

This was an opportunity to renew friendships, hear from guest speakers like Dr. Dean Richardson of the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center and Dr. Robert Krauss and Dr. Cesia Garcia, both of whom had served patients at our clinic. Their reflections and stories described what it was like to work in "high-stress" situations, knowing that because of extreme circumstances, the outcomes are not predictable. Yet, these individuals continue to persevere to help their patients. Music was provided by Found Wondering, a group of artists recently featured on Fox & Friends.  

Walking among wisps of aromatic bags of coffee beans from Honduras and white-gloved servers offering up appetizers, guests had an opportunity to bid on over 100 items available, whose retail value exceeded $15,000, through participation in a silent auction. The evening wrapped up with a live auction for golf outings, vacation rentals and custom, handmade home-furnishing luxury items.

Judging by the smiling faces and the chatter of people departing arm-laden with boxes and baskets filled with newly acquired auction items, it would appear that our guests spent a fun-filled evening to support clinic patients in a medically underserved part of the developing world.

The Decline in Honduras' Health Conditions

In 2014 Honduras was known to be one of the poorest countries in Latin America. With its poverty level rising, health care for Hondurans has been declining. The average life expectancies for Honduran men and women range from 69 years to 72 years, according to the CIA World Factbook. This is due to the high risk of infectious diseases, unhealthy lifestyle and poor living conditions.

While drinking water and sanitation conditions have improved for those living in densely populated areas, those living in rural areas suffer greatly. Around 10.4% of the population still does not have a clean water source and around 20% of the population does not have access to clean sanitation (CIA World Factbook). Without clean sanitation or a clean water source, bacteria and disease are easily transferred through physical or viral contact.

The World Health Organization found that HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis caused up to 20,000 deaths by 2012 due to the inadequate cleanliness of facilities and the inability to receive medical care because they cannot afford it.

Serving at the Crossroads and Manos Amigas are working together to help the citizens of Honduras receive proper medical care even though they cannot afford it. During the last brigade, several patients told a volunteer that the reason they do not seek medical care was because it was too expensive for them due to the cost of travel and treatment. This was heartbreaking for the volunteer to hear, but patients also said that they had heard wonderful stories about the clinic and knew that Manos Amigas would help them get well. 

Brigade volunteers, Nicole Sanders (left in red bandana) and Barb McHugh (right with camera in hand), kept the children of this remote Honduran village occupied while their family members received medical care from the brigade's medical personnel.  

Brigade volunteers, Nicole Sanders (left in red bandana) and Barb McHugh (right with camera in hand), kept the children of this remote Honduran village occupied while their family members received medical care from the brigade's medical personnel.  

Hondurans from a remote village outside La Entrada line up outside a makeshift clinic in their church to receive medical care for the first time.

Hondurans from a remote village outside La Entrada line up outside a makeshift clinic in their church to receive medical care for the first time.

Honduras' Growing Trend of Obesity and How We Are Trying to Change This

By: Nicole Sanders

Honduras is known for their archeological sites, island life, and its mountainous terrain. The mountainous terrain contains thousands of acres of agriculture. Around 40% of Hondurans work in the agriculture industry (This is Honduras).  According to the AFS-USA, the typical Honduran diet plan consists of starches, fresh fruit, and meat usually in a Caribbean-style dish. However, in recent years, there has been an increase in diets high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugars. This combined with a more sedentary lifestyle, is a major contributor to the increase in overweight and chronic diseases (World Bank Nutrition Resources).

While researching at the Manos Amigas Clinic, I interviewed over 30 patients in three days. These patients had illnesses ranging from high blood pressure in adults to tonsillitis in children. However many of the patients presented either underweight or overweight, which was concerning to me.

One of the doctors and I tried to convince a 14-year-old girl that being severely overweight is the cause for her health problems and that she needed to start eating better and exercising more. Unfortunately, she refused to take the doctor’s advice. She said that she was fine with her body.

According to the doctors, this incident happens often at the clinic. The doctors try to convince patients to begin a healthier diet and the patient refuses because they do not see anything wrong with how they look. The doctors are not concerned with how a patient looks; they are concerned because a patient who is overweight has a high risk of developing health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleeping disorders (CDC). 

The clinic staff has placed posters around the clinic on healthy eating and continues to discuss the importance of proper nutrition with the patients. The staff would like to develop a more formal nutrition education program in the near future.

Chikungunya: The New Dengue

When people think of mosquitos and the diseases carried by them, they think of dengue fever, malaria, or West Nile virus.  While all of these diseases can be severe, there is a new disease stemming from mosquito bites in the western hemisphere. According to the Center of Disease Control, chikungunya originated in Asia and Africa in 1952. It has slowly migrated towards the Americas with the first case of local transmission being reported in December 2013 in St. Martin. As of May 2015, 1.5 million cases had been reported to the Pan American Health Organization.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine prevent chikungunya. If someone contracts chikungunya, the only way to treat the disease is to focus on alleviating the symptoms. These symptoms include: fever, joint pain, rash, joint swelling, and headaches. The symptoms usually show within three to seven days of being infected and can be severely debilitating, but not deadly.

During my time in Honduras, I attended the Health Guardians workshop led by volunteers from Summit in Honduras. Chikungunya was high on the list of concerns expressed by the health guardians. The volunteers recommended that to avoid contracting chikungunya, the villagers should avoid areas with standing water and should use mosquito netting, if available, to protect themselves from mosquito bites within their homes.




Health Guardians Attend Summit in Honduras Workshop

What are Health Guardians? Health Guardians are men and women from surrounding villages in Copan that volunteer their time to care for their villages' sick and injured. Summit in Honduras, a partner of Serving at the Crossroads, established this program several years ago. Summit in Honduras provides the Health Guardians with medical training.

During the brigade’s time in Honduras, some of the volunteers held a workshop for the Health Guardians to teach them how to make the best medical supplies out of what they had available. The brigade demonstrated how to make slings and splints out of strips of a bed sheet and sturdy sticks found outside. They also learned how to stabilize a person’s neck with cardboard and cloth. After the demonstrations, the Health Guardians were able to ask questions about “what to do if…” what type of medicine should be used for a certain illness, what are the symptoms for certain diseases, etc.

When the meeting finished, the Health Guardians received a bag they could fill with medical supplies that their villages needed. If they didn’t have enough of certain supplies, the volunteers offered to bring them the supplies once they got some more. 

West Chester, PA Team Heads to the Hills

This may look like a picture postcard of the lush mountains of Western Honduras, but nestled in this tranquil setting are families who are “eeking out” an existence. If you follow a trail, as the team from West Chester recently did and hike to the top of the mountain, you will find that there are numerous clusters of small, low-profile dwellings. These are the homes of people who have purchased small 10 x 20 foot parcels of property on which their dwelling sits. The homes shown here belong to the municipality of La Entrada, but they have neither water nor electricity supplied to them at this time. Owners expect these services will be provided in the future as infrastructure develops along this mountainside.

At the base of the mountain is this water trough from which residents draw their water and then hike back up to the top with full jugs of water. Many of the residents we visited were in their 70s and 80s, so this is not an easy trip for them. Our team even struggled to climb the steep slopes and we were not carrying any extra items other than a camera.

Although we were accompanied by the Mayor of La Entrada, Roberto Hernandez, the residents were friendly and smiling, excited that we were from the States and eager to show us their homes. This 80-year old gentlemen, living in a mud adobe-style home, invited us into his house and showed us his possessions. He was growing maize that served as his source of grain for tortillas on a small portion of his property.

A few ears can be seen on a metal sheet drying, along with frijoles or beans that were laid out in the sun to dry.

He showed us a small yellow fruit that he grows that when peeled back, reveals a cluster of sweet red bean-like pods that serve as a source of iron for them.

As we walked about, a few chickens scattered and a dog and young pup followed us. They were curious about us invading their space too.

The lady of the house, barefooted and a few years younger than her husband, was keen to have us see the inside of her home—dirt floor, a few pots and empty water jugs on the floor. A coffee pot along with a few other material possessions hung on the wall near the wood-fired stove. She seemed very happy and contented with her circumstances. After receiving compliments about her homesite, the wife smiled revealing a few gold capped teeth and was very willing to pose for snapshots.

The proud couple, seemingly content with life on the hillside and a panoramic view of the valley below, commented that when the water and electricity come into their community, the prices of the lots will likely double because more people will want to move in. Their expectations were not too terribly different from suburban dwellers back home.

Judging from their proud demeanor and big smiles, many of us couldn’t keep from thinking that this couple had achieved a level of acceptance and personal self-satisfaction, while we North Americans chase around seeking the latest technological self-indulgences. Of course we would be the first to say that we would not want to trade places with them, but there are many lessons to be learned from this visitation.

Creative Playtime

High-tech, low-tech, or no-tech. It doesn’t matter much to these youngsters as they were eager to break out the boxes of LEGO bricks on-hand and demonstrate their creative skills. Cindy Knisely, a volunteer from Westminster Presbyterian Church of West Chester, PA was in Honduras in August to support the medical team from Lehigh Valley Medical Center and First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, PA. She was amazed at the models these children were able to build with no instructor or instructions!

Cindy hosted a creative table and work space where children could be segregated from parents, freeing up more space for patients inside the clinic, both at the Trinidad and La Entrada locations. Cindy had the children engaged in colorful tissue paper projects, designing beadwork necklaces and bracelets, and coloring pictures with crayons and magic markers. The girls gravitated to pictures of the little mermaids while the boys colored horses and farm animals. Recognizing the meticulousness taken in working on their projects, Cindy posted their completed works on a display wall while the children smiled with pride and pointed out their “masterpieces” to friends.

One group of girls, newly introduced to an assortment of colorful play dough, quickly recognized the texture of the medium and crafting technique was similar to making tortillas, so they started to create miniature food items like frjjoles, bananas, berries, corn and leafy greens. They even created little baskets and plates on which to place and display these items.

Remarkably, the adults waiting in line to gain entrance to the clinic, also wanted to color, use magic markers and play with the dough!

Building with Legos

Building with Legos

Highland Presbyterian Church Medical Team

Thank you to the team of medical specialists from Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, PA who treated 400 patients the last week at the Manos Amigas clinic. Patients started arriving at 6:00 AM to be seen by these specialists who offered services in pediatrics, OBGYN, pulmonology, internal medicine and hearing loss.

Lancaster Medical team.jpeg
And, thank you to the those students from the Millenium Bi-Lingual School who helped us all week with the Spanish translations. Jorge Omar is pictured here with Dr. Karen Ephlin and nurse Kara Ohara, but we can't forget Luis Andres and Ever Josue and their teacher Luis Handal.

And, thank you to the those students from the Millenium Bi-Lingual School who helped us all week with the Spanish translations. Jorge Omar is pictured here with Dr. Karen Ephlin and nurse Kara Ohara, but we can't forget Luis Andres and Ever Josue and their teacher Luis Handal.