For the patients living in For His Children orphanages in Ecuador, doctors and clinicians are more than just healthcare providers – they are the closest thing to family. Susan Jameson, physical therapist and director of business development at South County Home Health, experienced the power of medicine and the emotional support it offers when she spent a week in Ecuador caring for children with severe developmental disabilities.
Spending a week at two orphanages in Quito and Latacunga (one of which was the former home of her own adopted son), Susan helped administer medical care to children ages one to 22, most of whom had been orphaned or abandoned at a young age and had spent their entire lives under the care of full-time “tias” (aunts). Susan and her colleagues from the doctoral program in physical therapy at Northeastern University helped the tias administer daily care, which included feedings, speech and physical therapy, and recreational activities such as soccer games and bonfires.
Susan with one of the children of For His Children
In any country, in any language, putting the patients first never fails. Susan recalls, “One night, after everyone had shared his or her “highs” and “lows” for the day, a little girl came up to me and kissed me on the forehead. Even though I couldn’t speak her language, in that moment, I knew exactly what she was saying.”The day-to-day challenges of caring for children with a unique range of disabilities also demonstrate the strength and compassion of everyone working in the program. The moniker “tias” emphasizes the role that these caregivers play in the lives of the children—they’re family. Susan explains, “One young girl, Thalia, suffered from constant seizures. Just about anything could cause an episode – even being fed. The tias were incredibly patient and did not hesitate to spend extra time to ensure that Thalia and others were safe.”