Project Health for León
PO Box 1209 Greenville, NC 27835
2017 ANNUAL PROJECT HEALTH FOR LEÓN NEWSLETTER
February 21, 2018
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
A large group from Project Health for Leon (a little more than 50 participants) just returned from a medical mission trip to Nicaragua. There were substantial components of the group from ECU, UNC-CH, Georgetown, Raleigh, and Asheville, as well as other locations coast to coast. We saw 270 patients in the cardiology clinic, and another 50 patients in the pediatric cardiology clinic. Most of the adults had rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, and cardiomyopathies, and the pediatric patients had a variety of often unusual congenital problems. Many of these patients need catheter based interventions or open heart surgery. For the first time, the interventional team from UNC performed six new procedures (two ASD closures, two PDA closures, and two openings of stenotic pulmonary valves), all of which were outstandingly successful. They plan to return for the first week of the next trip (September 1-15) and expand their delivery of interventions. For the second week, a surgical team will return, planning on several valve replacements or repairs. They have already had a donation of prosthetic heart valves from St. Jude. We have already purchased 3 echocardiogram machines and a portable x-ray machine, which just arrived in Nicaragua and will be important for the interventional work next time.
The students and several faculty members also participated in a local general medical clinic in a small nearby village (Poneloya). They also worked in a large general clinic in the community of Lechecagua. A midwifery professor joined us for the first time to explore educational opportunities for students. She will be presenting a proposal to Dean Brown for consideration that may result in midwifery students joining the September 2018 team. The PHL board will discuss this at our next meeting.
We had a total of nine students with us, five from the medical school, and 4 from the nurse practitioner program. They had a wonderful experience in medical and cultural education, and worked closely together, an unusual example of inter-professional collaboration. We spoke with the Dean of the medical school there, and planned future trips and started to arrange a rotation at Brody/ECU for two Nicaraguan medical students this spring. We had useful meetings with the director of the hospital and some of his staff. We also met with the AMOS group whose medical program is based in Managua and villages in the countryside and hope to expand our community care by working with them. As always, it was a joy to see and visit with all our colleagues and friends in Leon and elsewhere.
So, PHL continues to expand, and we hope to offer more procedural and surgical care to the large numbers of patients who require this type of treatment. Our founder and friend, Dr. John Paar, has recovered substantially from his illness which began late last year. We’ll communicate with you later in the year. Thanks to all of you for your support, financial, personal, and spiritual.
- Project Health for Leon has no employees (aside from my former secretary, now retired, who provides some secretarial support for a small fee). Board members are a major source of our financial contributions and do most of the work, including the physical part of obtaining and packing supplies. Participants in our trips to Leon fund their own trips; a few are funded partially, usually by extra contributions by one of our members. Therefore, contributions to PHL go almost entirely for our missions.
- We do not bombard you with requests and ask for your financial support only once a year.
- We are constantly looking to expand what we are able to do. For example, we continue to actively solicit more cardiac surgical teams to join us in meeting the urgent needs of our patients in Nicaragua, and hope to expand what our interventional colleagues are able to accomplish. We believe what we have instituted in nursing education is making a real difference in raising the level of knowledge and competence of the Rosales hospital staff, and that the education programs have been very meaningful for both Nicaraguan and American students and residents.
- We are persistent. Over the nearly 30 years since members, of what became PHL in 1995, first went to Leon, we have never ceased in our efforts to meet our goals, and to change and expand. Many other groups have come and gone over that period of time. We have had successes and failures. However, we have learned from all our experiences and have not given up, in spite of some major obstacles.
Many thanks for the opportunity to report to you on our efforts, to thank those of you who have been our faithful supporters, and to invite those of you who are new to us to consider your participation. The participation could be financial only, or could involve your professional input, if appropriate for the program. We welcome your inquires.
Best wishes for the holidays and for the coming new year.
John D. Rose M.D John A. Paar M.D.