Pharmacy on a Mission: Our Pharmacist’s Story About Providing Medical Care to the People of Acuña

Each trip I’ve attended has been special in its own way in which a few stories from each trip tend to stay with me indefinitely.

This visit, two stories stood out the most. One little boy came into the clinic for a routine visit. During the physical exam, the pediatrician learned he had lost his hearing after being given the antibiotic, amikacin.

The fact he experienced drug-induced hearing loss at such a young age had such a detrimental effect on his ability to learn to speak and impeded his ability to reach multiple developmental milestones.

Fortunately, his mother was able to get him a hearing aid when he was younger, in which he was able to make some progress in his speech. However it broke a few years later. He is now 7 and can no longer speak. The pediatrician told me he tried so hard to communicate with her, but unfortunately can not. And their family does not have the means for another pair of hearing aids nor do they have the resources for him to learn sign language.

Another story that has been so heartbreaking to hear is a 46 year old woman we saw for pain. After her exam, we learned she has metastatic ovarian cancer. She expressed that her family refused to visit her for the last 2 years because they believed cancer was contagious.

Throughout the weekend, you would often hear people say, “No one here will take care of us.” Which to you and me might not make sense, because when you cross the border, the number of doctor and dentist’s offices are plenty. Plus, healthcare is free. However, most doctors and dentists will not see the people of the community, because they receive little reimbursement from the government to do so. Instead, the providers will set up their practices close to the border for those Americans who are looking to save money on health care. All while the people in their own community go without care, because they just can’t afford it.

Throughout the weekend, it became evident that the people of Acuna do not just attend the clinic for their medical needs but they come for a connection. You learn very quickly how much a hug or smile means to them. You can see the gratitude in  their eyes.

Their gratitude means the world and is one of the main reasons I continue to make the trip. I am beyond blessed and honored for having the opportunity to provide the community with medical care, medication and supplies. I also want to thank Digital Pharmacist for their continued support and for allowing me to make this trip multiple times a year.

Until next time, Acuña, I wish you health and happiness.