Students from the University of Bridgeport Physician Assistant Institute (UBPAI) have returned from Guatemala, where they provided much-needed medical care and equipment for local clinics that serve underprivileged residents, including children and the elderly.
The six students were accompanied on their 10-day trip by professors Stephenie Kunkel and Medeya Tsnobiladze. Kunkel, who is director of academic affairs at UBPAI, is a physician assistant who specializes in emergency medicine. Tsnobiladze is a naturopathic physician and the director of research at PAI.
The group traveled to the mountainous city of Quetzaltenango, home to three government-funded health clinics that are “understaffed and largely undersupplied,” said Kunkel.
Students Miro Paridis, Vanessa Carmona, Jenna Stoller, Robin Fiftal, Liliya Tereshchuck, and Brad Pettiti helped fill equipment shortages by donating blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, stethoscopes, sterile gloves, thermometers, first aid supplies, and an automatic external defibrillator, which they purchased by hosting a series of fundraisers throughout the fall and early winter of 2015.
They also administered vaccinations, measured pediatric heights and weights, took vital signs, performed physical exams and treated sick patients.
They did not have the medical professionals available to give flu vaccines, so our PAI student volunteers took over this responsibility, and in their free time, they taught CPR to the clinic staff and to the staff of a local women’s shelter,” said Kunkel.
Student Miro Paridis said the health missing to Guatemala “transformed” the group. “Often it takes time away from the mundane routines at home to realize how much is taken for granted,” Paridis added. “Guatemala opened eyes, minds and hearts; and they are forever grateful.”