Panama 2019


About the Trip:

This summer, Aaron Kvenild, Siri Loken, and Spencer Kozik will be traveling to Bocas Del Toro, Panama to assist Floating Doctors, a charitable 501(c)3 organization, in their rural clinics and to conduct maternal health research. Floating Doctors has slowly worked to gain the remote population’s trust by providing hard to come by medical care to the local people. This work is essential to the health of the local people, who live hours or days from the nearest medical care. Without traveling clinics, most of the residents of the Bocas Del Toro region would likely never receive treatment. Our goal is to aid in the treatment of acute and chronic ailments as well as to conduct research aimed at using ultrasound to improve medical care for remote communities like theirs.

About the Clinics:

Floating Doctors gets their name from their primary form of transportation: boats! The communities we will serve live on islands or in areas that are only accessible by river. We will be traveling with the clinic by canoe to remote villages to treat illnesses ranging from snake bites to uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension.  Over week long stays in each village, we will sleep in hammocks and shower in rivers and oceans between our weekend regroups at base camp.

About the Research:

Maternal and infant mortality rates in the Bocas Del Toro region remain high. We will be conducting two research studies that aim to use ultrasound to address this pressing issue. First, we will train Floating Doctors physicians and healthcare providers to perform the rural obstetric ultrasound triage exam (ROUTE). This exam allows for the identification of women who have conditions that threaten the life of mom and baby during delivery. In addition, we will carry out a second study that uses new portable ultrasound technology to integrate the ROUTE into the Floating Doctors mobile clinics. We hope that our efforts will improve the remote physician’s ability to prevent maternal and perinatal mortality by detecting problems during pregnancy with a portable ultrasound device. We will be primarily serving the indigenous Ngabe people that inhabit a series of satellite islands off the coast of the Panamanian mainland.