Bisira, Panama

Date: October 18 – 24, 2020
Partner: Floating Doctors
Program Cost: $800* (partner rate for groups that send at least 5 volunteers per calendar year)
Estimated Economy Airfare: $115 from Panama City to Bocas Del Toro. Flights from the US to Panama City vary

About Floating Doctors: The Floating Doctors Mission is to reduce the present and future burden of disease in the developing world, and to promote improvements in health care delivery worldwide. OUR GOALS INCLUDE:

  • Providing free acute and preventative health care services
  • Facilitating community development & capacity initiatives
  • Reducing child and maternal mortality
  • Gathering clinical data for program and health landscape surveillance
  • Improving access to specialist medical care in developing regions
  • Promoting improvements in health care practice worldwide

About the mission: With challenges affecting health at every level, Floating Doctors utilizes a highly versatile approach to a dynamic health environment. Our programs address individual and community health—not only do we provide acute and ongoing medical care, but also include education, training, community projects, supply donation, and preventive health interventions to create sustainable improvements in health. Our programs are continuously evaluated and adapted to ensure Floating Doctors focuses on the current key health issues identified in communities.

About the country: Panamá is a transcontinental country in Central America and South America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country’s 4 million people. Covering around 40 percent of its land area, Panama’s jungles are home to an abundance of tropical plants and animals – some of them found nowhere else on earth.

Accommodation: The Floating Doctors base is located on a protected island of Isla San Cristobal, and is about 15-30 minutes by boat from Bocas Del Toro town. Our base is solar-powered and uses a rain catchment system, and volunteers stay in a dorm-style bunkhouse with up to four volunteers per room. During multi-day clinic weeks, the team will deploy to a remote community on Monday and return to the Floating Doctors base on Thursday. Multi-day clinics are held in our larger and more remote communities, and volunteers will bring hammocks and mosquito nets to live in the target community for 3-4 days out of the week. These clinics offer the unique opportunity to be a welcome guest in a Ngabe village, and get to know your patients outside of clinic.

Medical Setting: For the past 8 years have been building a robust rural health care and development program, serving the indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé in over 25 communities within a 10,000 square mile area of mountains, jungles and mangrove mazes and no roads.

Type of provider / specialty: The level of care provided in our clinics varies according to the scope of practice of the lead medical providers and volunteers. We have amputated toes after machete wounds, but only when we had a trauma surgeon with us. No one is encouraged, or allowed to practice outside the scope of their training and experience. A lot of primary care is provided, and emergency care based on the training and experience level of the people present. Small operations under local anesthesia (ganglion cyst excisions, abcess drainages, etc) are not uncommon at all. We use diagnostic ultrasound as well.

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