Cycle 1 promotoras receive new tools and celebrate achievements

Last Friday, our Cycle 1 promotoras (community health workers) learned about appropriate use of some common medications, celebrated their achievements of the past two years, and received new botiquines (medical supply kits).

As the group settled into their seats at the government health clinic in Patacancha, Community Coordinator Mary Underwood R.N. introduced the topic of proper medication usage.  Although the promotoras do not dispense medication, it is important for them to be informed about appropriate uses and doses, as well as the risks associated with the most frequently prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Mary then transitioned to a new segment of our training sessions called ¿Qué pasó?—What happened? She prefaced the slideshow with the following explanation. “As you know, whenever we make house visits together or whenever you give health-related presentations in your communities, one of us is always snapping a photo. We do this to exhibit the important work you do to an audience outside of Perú. Well, starting today, we’d like to show you what we display to the outside world. In this series, called ¿Qué pasó?, we’ll be showing photos we’ve compiled throughout the past weeks that demonstrate your accomplishments.”

With that, she clicked ahead to a picture of Beatriz participating in a workshop on prenatal nutrition. I turned to Beatriz and saw that she was beaming. The ¿Qué pasó? series is a way for us to recognize and celebrate the achievements of our promotoras, instilling pride.

Beatriz reacting with pride to her own image on the first slide of the ¿Qué pasó? series.
Beatriz  (at right) reacting with pride to her own image on the first slide of the ¿Qué pasó? series.

After the slideshow, Community Coordinator Jenny Beth Jordan R.N.  presented each of the promotoras with a brand new botequín, or medical supply kit. The promotoras carry these bags filled with bandages, tinctures, disinfectant wipes, and other supplies when they make home visits. The new kits include more sophisticated instruments: aspirators, arm slings, digital thermometers, and stethoscopes.

Promotoras opening up their new medical supply kits.
Promotoras opening up their new medical supply kits.

Although the promotoras had already learned to use mercury thermometers, the digital thermometers were new to them, as were the stethoscopes and aspirators. To teach them how to use these instruments, we broke off into smaller groups that rotated around workshop stations. In the first, Katherine demonstrated how to use an aspirator to remove mucus from a baby’s nose. In another, Jenny reviewed the proper technique for taking a person’s temperature. “Does it always have to be placed under the tongue?” inquired Promotora Matilde, as she lifted the thermometer to her mouth. Jenny explained that, especially when treating babies that might be fidgety, the thermometer can be placed under the armpit to get a more accurate read. Matilde waited with a closed mouth for her thermometer to beep, indicating that it had completed its measurement. “Thirty-six degrees Celsius,” announced Jenny. “The picture of health.”

Matilde learning to use the thermometer while Beatriz testing out a thermometer with help from SVH/Ayni Wasi’s friend and Quechua translator, Ruben.
Matilde learns to use the digital thermometer while Beatriz tests one out with help from SVH/Ayni Wasi’s friend and Quechua translator, Ruben.

Mary led the final workshop on stethoscope use. The women tested out their stethoscopes on us, listening to the swishes of our heartbeats and the gurgles of our stomachs. Mary described the sounds that might suggest pneumonia, the silence that would be produced in the event of a ruptured bowel, and how to respond. She explained that these instruments should not be used as diagnostic tools in isolation, and that patients typically present an array of symptoms. “If your patient has pneumonia, it is likely that he or she will be presenting other physical symptoms in addition to noisy lungs,” she said. She explained that it is important to combine multiple diagnostic approaches and to ensure that the sick person seeks treatment at a clinic while he or she is still well enough to go.

Promotoras taking turns listening to Mary’s heartbeat with their new stethoscopes.
Promotoras taking turns listening to Mary’s heartbeat with their new stethoscopes.

By maximizing the use of our resources, we continue to grow our organization poco a poco (little by little).

– Written by Courtney Weintraub

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