Fellow Man International is committed to providing comprehensive, medical care to a population of more than 120,000 people living in the remote mountains of Northcentral Honduras. The FMI clinic is a full-service, medical facility offering general medical, emergency, obstetrical, gynecological, surgical, dental, and laboratory services, regardless of ability to pay. As part of our committment to prention and accessibility for all people living in our service area, Fellow Man International has an extensive traveling medicine program. Our physicians, dentist, nurses and agriculture staff travel weekly to local villages to provide education, evaluation, treatment and technical services to those in need.
The Fellow Man International clinic is located in Buenos Aires, Santa Barbara, Honduras. It was constructed in a remote mountain range in the Northcentral portion of Honduras. This was in response to the overwhelming need of the poor for access to adequate medical services. It serves a highly impoverished population of over 120,000 and is the only comprehensive healthcare facility of its kind. It is our mission to assure that dignified, quality, basic medical attention be accessible to those who have the most limited of economic resources.
Over 800 people receive medical attention on a monthly basis through the efforts of this mission. The patient cost is eighty lempiras or $3.26 per visit which includes a physical exam and all medicines needed to treat the illness. If the patient is unable to pay, the exam and medications are provided free of charge, no questions asked. Clients are educated as to the actual cost of their healthcare and are encouraged to participate in any way they can. This promotes a feeling of ownership and responsibility for the success of the project among the communities served and stresses the importance of eventual self-sufficiency.
Fellow Man International is very fortunate to have two Honduran physicians who are passionate about providing care to their own people. Marvin Pineda, MD and Samira Villela, MD, provide general medical services to adult and pediatric patients five days a week. Practicing general medicine in Honduras is difficult. Physicians are required to have a vast knowledge base of the prevention, diagnosis and management of a wide range of diseases as well as be proficient in minor surgical procedures.
The Fellow Man International clinic provides emergency services for patients with urgent and critical needs. The closest hospital to our service area capable of providing life-saving medical services is over an hour away. There are many medical emergencies which can happen in this rural area, requiring immediate medical attention. Conditions which are frequently seen on an emergent basis at the FMI clinic are: acute traumas from motor-vehicle accidents, machete wounds, firearm injuries, burns, fractures and poisonous snake bites, to name only a few. Other emergent situations can arise for children whose injuries or illness are extremely time sensitive. These conditions are often related to respiratory distress from asthma or even pneumonia, choking and severe dehydration due to dysentery. We are pleased to be able to serve our fellow man when his or her need is the most urgent.
Prior to the opening of the Fellow Man International clinic, pregnant women had to travel great distances to receive prenatal care. Often, women were forced to deliver their babies either alone, with the assistance of a family member or friend or at times with lay-trained, village midwives. Fetal, infant and maternal mortality is high in rural Honduras, however, since the opening of the FMI clinic, the incidence of mortality has steadily and significantly declined. Women of childbearing age receive folic acid to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. Pregnant women receive regular prenatal care which includes laboratory testing, prenatal vitamins, monitoring for signs and symptoms of complication, ultrasounds and referral to an appropriate medical facility based on potential risk during delivery.
Women living in the mission's service area also have access to gynecological services which include an annual well-woman exam, PAP smear, contraception if desired and breast cancer screening. Honduras has a very high incidence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is responsible for the death of women due to cervical cancer. Not only do women have access to comprehensive gynecological services, they also have a safe place to discuss sensitive issues related to women's health and when needed, referral for appropriate services in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Obtaining surgical services for those who live in poverty is very difficult. The Honduras Ministry of Health performs surgeries in government run hospitals such as the Mario Catarino Rivas in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. However, the demand for services is high, with emergency surgeries for life-threatening conditions often superceding pre-planned surgical interventions. Patients can wait for months and in some cases more than a year to have surgeries such as hernia repairs, cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal), hysterectomy and other common procedures. Frequently, patient who need biopsies are forced to wait extended amounts of time while their condition worsens.
Semi-elective and elective surgical procedures are performed at the FMI clinic. Dr. Arnulfo Madrid, a local surgeon from the area has pledged to use his services to help poor patients in the mission's service area, obtain much needed services as part of his committment to his fellow man. Brenda Bordales, a nurse anesthetist who is also committed to serving the poor, travels with Dr. Madrid to provide anesthesia services. The cost of surgical services is determined on a case by case basis, however most patients pay less than fifty dollars. Once again, for those patients who are unable to pay, services are provided without cost.
Dental health is an area of deep concern for those living in rural Honduras. Dental caries (cavities) cause pain and discomfort and can lead to local and systemic infection. Many people lose their teeth prematurely because of lack of access to preventative care and treatment. Frequently, children and adults suffer from gingivitis and periodontal disease which affects the gums and other structures around the teeth.
Fellow Man International is committed to providing comprehensive dental services to people living in our service area. Our program's primary goal is to improve overall oral health through prevention and treatment. FMI is very fortunate to have a full-time dentist working at the clinic. Dr. Fredy Peña is dedicating his life to bring dental care to his fellow Hondurans. He is able to provide all of the common dental procedures found in a modern dental office such as: prophylactic fluoride treatments, cleanings, x-rays, fillings and repairs, extractions, root canals, crowns and minor gum surgery.
Weekly, Dr. Peña travels to villages in the FMI service area to evaluate school-aged children and apply fluoride to their teeth. He also teaches children and adults, the importance and benefits of brushing and flossing as well as receiving regular dental care. When a child is found to have any condition which requires interventions and treatments which can not be provided through the FMI traveling dentistry program, he or she is referred to the main clinic for care, or to other advanced care providers for evaluation and treatment. Additionally, FMI recognizes the importance of optimal oral health in pregnant women and their unborn children. Periodontitis has been linked with poor outcomes to include preterm birth and low birth weights. It is important to support women and their unborn children by ensuring dental care is provided during this critical time.
Diagnostic laboratory services are scarce in Honduras. Yet, diagnosis and treatment often depend on information that can only be obtained through testing. While Fellow Man International is unable to provide all laboratory services needed in all circumstances, the clinic is fortunate to have a small lab where basic diagnostic tests can be performed. Common tests performed in our lab are: hemoglobin and hematocrit, blood type, urinanalysis, pregnancy test, direct fecal examination, gram stain, STD screening and a few other tests for vector-borne illnesses such as malaria. Also, FMI collaborates with several larger laboratories in San Pedro Sula to help provide more extensive diagnostic services to our patients when more extensive evaluation is required.