Screening day starts early, and crowd control is key. Parents have traveled with their kids from six, seven, ten hours away. They may have scrimped and saved to get the bus fare. People are anxious to be seen and hope to get on the surgical schedule.
Every child must be examined for their suitability for surgery; for example, babies who weigh less than 10 pounds might be turned away. So might children with colds or chest infections. Parents are of course very disappointed when this happens. They will most likely wait a year to have another chance at surgery, such a very long time for a child.
The speech team sees many of the children on screening day, but not the very youngest. These families we see on the ward, after surgery most typically. We also screen many children who are not surgical candidates this time, but need speech therapy. We take some baseline measures and give appointments later in the week. Sometimes we will have children return a few times in the week if they live nearby. We prepare handouts for the parents, because they will be the speech terapists going forward. We are starting to see some children in Colombia receive speech services,but the majority will not be able to get any follow-up care.
We got on the bus at 730 am, and screened 166 children…maybe more. We returned to the hotel around 7 and wrote up the surgical schedule for the week. Then, we quickly freshened up and jumped back on the bus for a wonderful dinner and dancing al fresco at a restaurant high on a hill overlooking the city. Where did we get the energy to dance? I do not know, but dance we did.
So, we are ready for a long week of therapy and surgery, take-out food at the hospital for dinner, and interprofessional teaching and learning. We never quite know what we will experience but we are off and running.