Chris Loukos, RDCS, is an echocardiography (echo) technician for Carolinas HealthCare System who works with Heineman to train echo techs from other countries. He spent several weeks in 2014 training Kevin, an echo tech from Zacapa, Guatemala, who now performs chest scans in his city’s rural hospital.
Chris recently traveled to Guatemala to follow up with Kevin and provide patient support. Read about Chris’ experience, below.
“I traveled to Guatemala for approximately one week and thoroughly enjoyed each day. There was not a dull moment as I constantly learned and experienced a new culture.
Upon arriving to Guatemala City, my former student, Kevin (now a fully-trained echo tech at the regional hospital in the city of Zacapa), greeted me at the airport. It was so great to see him after several months! We spent the day catching up and preparing for patient visits at the Guatemala Heart Institute, or UNICAR.
My favorite moments from the entire week took place inside the walls of UNICAR. It was amazing being able to work with Kevin and witness how far he has come in his clinical abilities and confidence for patient care. Meeting and getting to know Oscar Flores (coordinator of the Central America Echo Project) was an absolute pleasure. What an incredible job he has done to support the echo techs!
A particularly memorable moment was that of my encounter with a patient. I was assisting Kevin throughout this gentleman’s study and what happened next stunned me. This man looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘Muy amable. Muchas gracias por todo.’ Hearing these words struck an emotion that is utterly inexpressible.
You see, I was born with a congenital heart defect and underwent four open-heart surgeries by the age of 10. I spent much of my adolescent years in and out of the hospital. Because of this, I realized from an early age the importance of living each day to the fullest. An important part of this, I feel, is giving back to others and increasing their quality of life. I share a passion for being in healthcare and for providing patients with a similar story as mine.
Spending time in Guatemala opened my eyes to a whole new world. It was my first time outside of the United States, and I am so proud it was through the Heineman Foundation and the International Medical Outreach Program. I have a newfound love for the precious people of Guatemala and an increased respect for healthcare advancements.”
Through the work of these organizations, there is now hope given to countries around the world, and what an honor to be a part of it.