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MEET THE STAFF: CARMEN NARVAEZ
By Aidan Wells
Carmen Narvaez is a nurse technician, and a part of the MEDPrograms team. The nurses on the MEDLIFE team work directly in the communities to ensure patient follow-up care. The patient follow-up team conducts individual patient visits, checks in on patients who present serious symptoms, and delivers exam results. When a Mobile Clinic participant receives abnormal test results, this is the team that accompanies him/her in each step along the way to recovery. Carmen loves working directly with patients to look after their needs, support them, and make them happy.
Members of the MEDPrograms team are constantly in the field working on mobile clinics, providing patient follow-up, and working with community members to ensure successful MEDLIFE initiatives.
Where are you from?
I’m from Lima, and I live in San Juan de Lurigancho.
How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?
I saw an announcement that they were looking for nurses to work here in MEDLIFE. So, I applied, and I was accepted and had the opportunity to become a part of the MEDLIFE team.
What is it that you like most about working with MEDLIFE?
I love visiting the patients. I like working directly in the clinics, and leading the educational workshops.
Here, Carmen demonstrates the steps of a Pap smear exam at a night-time educational workshop in Villa El Salvador.
Can you name a particular patient that has had a strong impact on you?
Yes, there are many patients that have an impact on us because you get to see, first-hand, the help that you can give. The help you’re providing the patients is sometimes much more emotional than simply medical. You want to treat them well because sometimes all that the patients want is someone to listen to their problems. Many times, their ailments aren’t just of the body. There are times when you’re speaking to a patient, and they have so many things stored in them that the moment they start telling you all their problems, their illnesses, it makes you sad because you see everything they have gone through.
Before MEDLIFE, what were your experiences with non-profit/humanitarian organizations?
Before MEDLIFE, I worked with another NGO called Manuela Ramos, whose work focuses on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. The organization aims to empower women to make their own decisions about using methods of contraception, to report when there is any kind of violence towards them, and to make the decision to have regular Pap smear exams.
Carmen makes a follow-up visit with Maura Morales, a MEDLIFE patient who was in a moto-taxi accident and required major reconstructive surgery.
Why is this work important to you?
I think that sometimes the work we do is to try and help women understand that their health is a priority. Women are often caretakers. They care for the health of their families, the husband, the children, but they do not care about their health. Most of the time patients who have cancer or other severe illnesses are women. They are often made to understand that, as women, we are the healthcare providers of the family, but our health becomes a part of the background.
What do you do in your free time?
I do a lot of work at home. I like to go dancing or go for a walk, but mostly I like to spend the weekends relaxing in my house.
On clinic weeks, one of Carmen’s many responsibilities includes working with volunteers to fill patients’ perscriptions.