Panama ~ Kyla Hoffer ~ Second Post

We have done so many things here in Panama! Here are just a few of the great experiences of this trip so far!

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We went to an agricultural office to vaccinate the staff against Yellow Fever and Influenza. It was definitely an interesting experience especially contrasting the practice with that of the United States. Here in Panama we gave vaccines using water to clean the skin instead of alcohol and we didn’t even use gloves! There was only one sharps box floating around so there was a lot of opportunity for needle sticks to occur so we had to be extra diligent with our safety precautions because of the potential risks involved. Additionally, the needle sizes were limited and we ended up using needles that we would normally use as intramuscular needles for subcutaneous injections and they had different techniques for injecting which was interesting.

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One interesting thing that occurred was an iguana that ran up into the hotel patio/dining area while we were presenting our genograms. We heard some sort of frantic scratching and scurrying to see the iguana trying to get into the men’s bathroom. He was unsuccessful but managed to get into the woman’s were Claudia was unknowingly going to the bathroom. He hid behind the toilet until he was caught by one of the workers. It was pretty cool to get to see some of native fauna.

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Another funny event that occurred was that I almost got myself vaccinated myself by accident! I have been doing a lot of translating but my Spanish isn’t perfect and the environment is often loud and rushed. So at the end the Panamanian students needed to get vaccinated themselves against Yellow Fever (fiebre amarilla) and I wanted to help so I asked the professor if I could give the vaccine. She and the other nursing students start to prepare it (what I think is for the Panamanian nursing student). I didn’t realize something was up until they started asking me health questions…. Finally I realized the confusion that occurred and I remedied the situation but we all had a good laugh about it. In the end, I was able to give the Panamanian student her vaccine and I didn’t get one I didn’t need!

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The people here highly value vaccines and have expressed their gratitude to us multiple times which is so different than the U.S. where people often don’t want vaccines or question them. I think because it is so much more difficult for them to access healthcare here so prevention is a priority. We were informed that the people we vaccinated were workers from the fields (el campo) and are more likely to get Yellow Fever because they are frequently outdoors and so exposed to mosquitoes making it really important for them. Overall it was a great experience getting to see nursing through a different lens and almost stepping back in time to practice nursing as I would imagine it was years ago in the United States.

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