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OUR MISSION

The mission of Project Health for León is to promote the improvement of medical care for the people of Nicaragua through education of health professionals, the acquisition of appropriate medical technology, and, when necessary, by direct patient consultation and medical and surgical care, both in Nicaragua and in the United States.

OUR STORY

Project Health for León is a group of health care providers whose principal goal is to improve the quality of medical care provided to the poor of Nicaragua through education of doctors and nurses, the provision of appropriate medical technology and resources, and direct patient consultation and care, where such is not available currently in Nicaragua.

Project Health for León had its beginning in January, 1985, when Dr. John Paar, a Raleigh, North Carolina, Cardiologist, first visited the Hospital Escuela Oscar Danilo Rosales A. in León, Nicaragua, to give lectures in cardiology, following an invitation by Dr. Gustavo Sequeira of  León.

Dr. Paar had first visited Nicaragua in 1984 with Witness for Peace and became acquainted with the desperate state of health affairs in that country.  Following the 1985 visit many health professionals from various disciplines came to León to present conferences and see patients. In addition, some Nicaraguan patients were brought to Raleigh, North Carolina for specialty care

Since that time many U.S. physicians and surgeons, nurses, and technicians have participated in Project Health for León missions in various fields of medicine, including initially in general and specialty surgeons, orthopedists, pediatricians, and others. The orthopedists formed an autonomous group, COAN, which continues to be active, not only in León but in other areas of Nicaragua, and general surgeons have also recently formed a separate group. Project Health for León now is mainly concerned with cardiovascular disease and with bidirectional medical education, meaning that we educate learners from the U.S., as well as Nicaraguan health professionals and students in both countries.

Dr. John Paar

OUR PATIENTS

Project Health for León was started in part to improve the standard of living for Nicaraguans suffering from illnesses such as  rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is the result of untreated strep throat and is common in the Central American nation. Antibodies that try to kill the invading bacteria that causes the fever also attack similar proteins found in heart valves.

For example, Ruth Garcia Gardado (one of the patients pictured below) suffered from rheumatic fever and  could not afford the expensive valve-replacement surgery. Project Health for Leon was able to provide the surgery.

Newsletter

2020 ANNUAL PROJECT HEALTH FOR LEON NEWSLETTER

April 13, 2020.

Dear PHL friends,

Project Health for Leon made a very successful trip to Leon in January 2020.  We saw about 175 patients in the clinic at hospital HEODRA, including 40 or so pediatric patients in conjunction with Dra. Nubia Berrios.  An interventional team, primarily from Chapel Hill, performed 16 successful interventions, including valvuloplasties, ASD/PDA closures, and coarctation stenting.

Our ambitious plan was to return in July with an EP group led by Dr. Brumfield, and in October with a surgical group headed by Dr. Ted Koutlas. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has put these plans in jeopardy. Dr. Brumfield’s group has postponed the 2020 EP mission for September 5th-13th. I don’t think anyone knows when global travel will safely resume, though I hope that will be a possibility by then.  More problematic will be the effects of the infection on Nicaragua. The few cases so far reported there are almost certainly an underestimation. The country, with its high rate of poverty, scant medical care, and lack of resources, is certainly at a high risk for widespread infection. We are currently working on getting personal protective equipment to send it to the frontline workers in Nicaragua. We should know more about this in the near future, but we certainly don’t want to put our teams in jeopardy.

We have made several changes in PHL leadership. Jack Rose and John Paar will each continue to be actively involved; each has earned the title President Emeritus. Carlos Espinoza was elected as President, and we are thankful for the outstanding service done by Eric Van Tassel as former president. We are fortunate to have a dedicated, active Board of Directors.  Please feel free to communicate with us.

Regarding PHL communication, please note the following — our mailing address has changed, as shown on the heading of this letter. We will continue mailing a paper copy of our annual newsletter in addition to posting it in our website: projecthealthforleon.org. Our periodic updates will be sent by email. If your email address has changed, or you have not previously sent us your email, please confirm your preferred email address to Carlos Espinoza at carlos75@email.unc.edu

The overall goals of PHL remain the same: to provide specialty and general health care to the citizens of Nicaragua, to educate Nicaraguan and American medical professionals, and to provide needed medical supplies and medications to health care facilities in Nicaragua. PHL receives no government funding. Therefore, our work depends on private donations. Medical equipment, supplies, and shipping are very expensive, and your financial contributions are needed in order that PHL can continue its mission of helping the people of Nicaragua. Please consider making a contribution. Checks should be made payable to PHL and mailed to the address found in the letterhead. Contributions are tax-deductible. If you are interested in volunteering for a brigade, please contact Carlos Espinoza through his email provided above.

Many thanks for your interest and support, and be assured that we hope to resume the project when that is a possibility.

Carlos A. Espinoza, MD, FACP, President

Mike Yeung, MD, FACC, Vice president

Jack Rose, MD, FACC, President Emeritus

John Paar, MD, President Emeritus

Recent Trips

“Please see the Annual Newsletter on this website.”

Project Health for Leon made a very successful trip to Leon in January 2020.  We saw about 175 patients in the clinic at hospital HEODRA, including 40 or so pediatric patients in conjunction with Dra. Nubia Berrios.  An interventional team, primarily from Chapel Hill, performed 16 successful interventions, including valvuloplasties, ASD/PDA closures, and coarctation stenting.

Future Trips

“Please see the Annual Newsletter on this website.”

Our ambitious plan was to return in July with an EP group led by Dr. Brumfield, and in October with a surgical group headed by Dr. Ted Koutlas. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has put these plans in jeopardy. Dr. Brumfield’s group has postponed the 2020 EP mission for September 5th-13th. We don’t think anyone knows when global travel will safely resume, though We hope that will be a possibility by then.  More problematic will be the effects of the infection on Nicaragua. The few cases so far reported there are almost certainly an underestimation. The country, with its high rate of poverty, scant medical care, and lack of resources, is certainly at a high risk for widespread infection. We are currently working on getting personal protective equipment to send it to the frontline workers in Nicaragua.  We should know more about this in the near future, but we certainly don’t want to put our teams in jeopardy.

We have provided HEODRA hospital with 220 (N-95) masks for the physicians and nurses working in the COVID-19 unit and will deliver 220 more in a couple of weeks.