Our team of nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and audiologists have years of experience providing care to individuals in need.
In 2001, a group of Kamloops, B.C., volunteers who had previously worked in Guatemala with another organization, Poco a Poco, met to form their own group, a charitable society known as Medicos en Accion.
Initially, our focus was the Hermano Pedro hospital in Antigua. But over the years we have expanded our scope as new areas of need were identified. Between 2003 and 2010, Medicos en Accion missions to Guatemala included community health work in Lake Atitlan communities and a surgical program in the Guatemalan Highlands city of Patzun in addition to the general surgery, gynecological, ENT and hearing clinic services provided in Antigua. Medicos has also taken an active role in supporting Melody School.
In 2010, at the request of The Gambian government, a small group of Medicos en Accion volunteers traveled to Serrekunda General Hospital (now called Kanifing General Hospital ) to help the hospital establish a surgical program and train staff. At the time, there were virtually no local surgeons, and the Medicos team provided care for a wide range of surgical, and medical needs that were not being met. Increasingly, however, surgical caseloads are now handled by Gambian surgeons and the Medicos team has focused on complex paediatric and thyroid surgeries.
Although it began as a Kamloops-based organization, Medicos en Accion continues to draw volunteers from across Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. Some volunteers join us for one or two missions; many return year after year.
A Chronological History of Medicos en Accion Society: From Inception to Today
Surgical missions return to Guatemala and The Gambia.
First mission after cancellations due to Covid was to San Benito, Guatemala in November. ENT surgeries and hearing clinic were provided.
All missions cancelled due to Covid. Medicos en Accion organized a successful fundraiser to support workers at Hermano Pedro Hospital.
First ENT mission to Hospital Shalom, San Benito, Guatemala.
Last surgical mission to Patzun.
The community health team disbanded.
First Medicos en Accion trip to The Gambia and the first surgical team to work at Kanifing General Hospital (formerly the Serrekunda General Hospital.)
Medicos en Accion partnered with Hermano Pedro Hospital to build an audiology testing booth. The $11,000 construction cost was supported by a donation from Medicos en Accion.
Construction of four new OR's completed in Antigua. Medicos en Accion donated $10,000 towards the construction costs.
First general surgery mission to Hospital Corpus Christi, Patzún, Guatemala with Dr. Jon Just. This trip was limited to hernia repairs and getting the OR theatres up to speed for future missions.
Dr. Brian Poelzer organized a community health team that worked in the villages around Lake Atitlan.
First Antigua mission under the Medicos en Accion banner.
At the end of this mission, founder Poco a Poco Jill Sampson stepped back from her organizing role and encouraged the individual communities to organize their own societies. Dr. Norm Weir called a meeting of interested Kamloops volunteers to talk about forming a new society. Medicos en Accion Society was incorporated July 4, 2001. The first directors were: Norm Weir, President; Allan Frissell, VP; Sharon Frissell, Secretary, Elsie Griffiths, Treasurer; Ruth Moen, Fundraising, and Maureen Murphy, Recruiting Officer.
A hearing clinic was added to Antigua based on the 1998 experience. Hearing assessments were conducted and refurbished hearing aids were fitted to patients requiring them.
Kamloops organized a team under Poco a Poco to provide General Surgery, Gynecology, and ENT services in Antigua.
Edmonton organized a team and invited a Kamloops member to travel with them. This was a valuable trip as much was learned about organizing a complex mission.
The first team was sent to Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua, Guatemala by the Qualicum Beach based organization Poco a Poco. Led by Dr. Jill Sampson, nine volunteers from Kamloops joined others from Edmonton, Victoria, Nanaimo and Surrey for a three-week general surgery mission.
The volunteers suggested that each community organize their own teams under the banner of Poco a Poco. These groups were from Edmonton, Kamloops, Surrey, Victoria and Nanaimo. As of 2020, the two remaining groups are Medicos en Accion and Health for Humanity, both based in British Columbia.