We started off the day with a full slate of procedures in the OR. Audiology was set to test many in their section of the hospital and the primary care team was ready to travel to the shut ins in the villages.
Normally I love to talk about the number of Belizeans we get to touch and help in a day. 75 yesterday, hundreds on the screening day, a staff of twenty and support from the entire hospital staff at Corozal Community hospital which numbers a hundred or so.
However, we talked the other day about how we can affect the world. Should we do it in front of a crowd or should we really count those numbers anyway. We discussed that one of the best ways if not The best way to affect the world is one person at a time. It is our own personal interactions with the person in front of us and how we choose to present our self and our faith that can really take hold on a personal level.
Yesterday, our primary care team went to visit an elderly gentleman’s house. They had stopped by the day before, but he did not come to the door. after a few minutes, they went on their way. Not ones to give up, they returned yesterday morning to knock again. They felt this eighty-four year old gentleman was home but maybe could not get up. They discussed actually breaking into the house to check on him. after twenty minutes the door started to open. a very hunched-over, frail and obviously weak man was there, barely able to stand, much less walk to his door. Our team took him into the house to assess. He told them he had not eaten in over a week not gone to the bathroom in over two weeks. He was dehydrated and in obvious distress. A call was made to the hospital to see if it was possible to have an ambulance come to pick him up. While calling 911 in the states would be the thing to do, that is not quite how it works in this northern portion of Belize. The hospital director sent an ambulance. Brought into the emergency department, he was placed in a bed to be assessed. He smiled. This was probably the best bed he had been in in a long time, soft and comfortable with clean sheets. We began to feel better about his prognosis, but then reality set in. What next? where will he go, who will take care of him, he has no income, just leave him to… Indigent care in Belize is not like the states. is there room anywhere, it was determined there was not. Maybe a few villages over? many questions over this ONE person.
Through God’s grace and the spirit within many it was determined the medical director would let him stay at the hospital in a ward bed until his disposition could be determined. It turned out the medical director remembered this man from when he was in grade school. The old man sold peanuts as his livelihood.
I was fortunate to be at his bedside when the medical director was talking to him, translating what he said. He told us that he had heard the knock on the door the first day but was too weak to get up. When he heard the knock at the door the next morning, he said that he knew that if he could not get to the door he would surely die. He summoned the courage and strength to open that door.
One person at a time. Maybe it is a polite “hello, how are you”; maybe a hard conversation with a loved one; a mission trip to Belize; could be a few extra minutes in our busy schedules to really listen to someone; an opening of our heart to care more about others than ourselves.
Maybe, just maybe, all it takes is a knock on the door.