Healing with Care
How a doctor who grew up at NPH Honduras is helping to keep our communities healthy.
March 14, 2019 - Honduras
“NPH is my family. I am who I am because of NPH,” says Dr. Marta Baca, an incredible woman who grew up at NPH and now is the primary doctor at our community clinic.
After her mother passed away and her father could no longer support their family, she and five of her six siblings moved to NPH in 1990. Since then, NPH has become the home where she learned many of her most treasured values and where she first realized that she wanted to become a doctor.
Today, five years after obtaining her medical degree and joining the NPH medical team, ‘home’ is where she’s using her skills to deliver quality healthcare in a genuine family atmosphere.
Appreciative for the opportunity to work and give back to her community, Marta doesn’t let a day go by without expressing her gratitude. “The day starts off for me by waking up and feeling thankful that I got up, that I have a job and transportation to get to that job,” she says.
By 7:00 a.m., she’s at the clinic working with her team to serve children and adults from neighboring towns for a range of primary health issues. They work throughout the day to process patients, check their vital signs, and dispense medication.
Though a significant part of her job consists of doing technical work, Marta takes advantage of any opportunity she gets to teach, because for her educating her patients on their health is essential to their treatment.
“We try to not only be a facilitator of medicine, but also our mission is to educate our population.”
True to the adage that “it's better to prevent than to cure,” Marta and her team take public health education seriously and try to weave it into the clinic’s services by offering health classes every month during diabetes, hypertension, or pap smear screenings.
On these days, patients learn about a variety of healthy habits, like washing their hands, eating healthier foods, keeping their environments clean, exercising regularly, and how to properly take their medicine.
“Health education is a way to make people conscious,” and provide an opportunity for people to ask questions, learn in a welcoming environment, and seek medical attention. In countries where health literacy is notably low, even short presentations or trainings can go a long way to improving the daily health of its residents.
“Oftentimes, people wait until it's too late to get medical help. This [the range of primary care and health education offered at NPH] helps us make early decisions and prevent the spread of disease, for example, to avoid having to send someone to a cancer center on their first appointment.“
But like any teacher, her greatest challenge is getting her patients to understand their health problems and take interest in living healthier lives.
“You can make the best presentation in the world, but still some people will be indifferent. It’s a dynamic that puts what you want to do in opposition with what you should do. Sometimes the public wants something in return for the education, when the education is the reward in itself.”
Though difficult at times, Marta sees the benefits of this program and continues to enjoy her work.
“You’re in direct contact with people ... you won’t always have the most compliant patient, but you have a continuum of care. The patient comes to the clinic, you give them a treatment, they come back. That’s what I like. Working with patients from start to finish.”