News: US Air Force pediatrician supports humanitarian effort in El Salvador
Story by Sgt. Richard Frost
GUACAMAYA, El Salvador - A joint, multi-national effort providing free medical care to residents of El Salvador concluded here, April 26.
Military medical professionals from the United States, Canada, Colombia and El Salvador each played a vital role during the two-week clinics in Caluco and Guacamaya, providing care to residents in rural and underprivileged communities.
This medical exercise is just one component to Beyond the Horizon- El Salvador, which continues until late June. The overall mission, while working alongside the host nation service members, is to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support to remote areas of the country.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Alicia Catherine Prescott, 959th Medical Group, Joint Base San Antonio, Lackland, pediatrician, was asked to provide her support for this vital mission. She was the only pediatrician at this exercise, and her expertise played a critical role.
“We’re doing a lot of preventative medicine and well-baby checks, but we’re also seeing a lot of acute issues like heart murmurs and gastrointestinal disorders as well,” Prescott said. “It’s really interesting medicine.”
Many families traveled to these clinics on foot, walked great distances, and stood in long lines, just for the chance to be seen by a physician. Many children were seen for the first time in their lives here.
“The numbers were slightly more than we thought they’d be,” said Prescott. “I was the only pediatrician, but a lot of the general practitioners jumped in to help.”
The number of clients was significantly higher than expected. The clinics in both Caluco and Guacamaya both saw a total of more than 7,500 patients, of those more than 2,300 were seen by the pediatric clinic.
“This is busier than I’ve ever been,” Prescott said. “On an average day, I see about 20 kids in the clinic. But I’m enjoying every minute of it. The kids and the families are wonderful and I feel like we’re doing some really great things here.”
Prescott worked alongside many other doctors, nurses, support personnel, and other medical professionals from across the U.S., Canada, Colombia and El Salvador. The efforts they’ve put forth have made a lasting impression on the people of El Salvador, according to Salvadoran representatives here, and it’s clear that Prescott’s efforts won’t stop with this exercise.
“I love my job, why wouldn’t I love my job? I’m a relatively new pediatrician, I’m still young, I still have a long way to go in the Air Force, but I absolutely love this,” she said.