Project Health for León

PO Box 9189

Asheville, NC 28815-0189

EIN:  56-1917546


                                                                                          January 9, 2019

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Ruben Centeno and I just returned from a 6 day trip to Nicaragua.  Monica Rudawski, who has worked very effectively with us and lives near Leon also accompanied us to our meetings.  We met with more than 20 people, and spent hours gathering and seeking information.  Representatives of the hospital administration (Lic Violeta Tenorio and Dra. Lajarsa), spent hours with us, and we visited various departments in the hospital.  Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and it was indeed a joy to see many of our old friends there.  The PHL Board met on Monday this week to hear and discuss our findings.  We wished to send some of this information and our tentative future plans with you.

The capital city, Managua, and Leon appear to be much busier and more normal than we anticipated.  The streets were crowded, most businesses, and a number of restaurants were open.  It seemed to be very safe to walk around in the center of town.  All the street barricades have been removed, and intercity travel appears to be more normal.  There have been no demonstrations or killings recently.  Nonetheless, a number of people have been fired  and many have lost their jobs or are working reduced hours because of the poor economy and virtual collapse of tourism.  Most Nicaraguans, are of course worried about their country and about their own futures.  Many have left the country, at least temporarily.

The people we talked to, including the hospital administration, were welcoming and I believe happy to see us, as many NGO’s have left the country.  They want us to return, and promised to support us and take care of the equipment we have stored in the hospital.  We saw several patients, and hope to select one to come to Vidant Hospital in Greenville for heart surgery.  Dr. David Hannon recently arranged for a child to be operated on in Cincinnati, with a very successful result.

The next step, we believe, should be a return to Nicaragua, beginning in a small way with a small group (about 10 people) to run a cardiology clinic for a week and assess the number of people still needing surgery or catheter-based interventions to treat their cardiac disease.  We tentatively hope to do this May 25-June 1.  At that time, we could further assess the nature of the equipment and medications we have in Leon, and make plans for further medical trips.  Dr. Brumfield hopes to return with an electrophysiology group to implant pacemakers and defibrillators and perform ablations for cardiac arrhythmias in July.  He may also accompany us in May to inventory the equipment his group still has in Leon.  Eventually, we hope to return with cardiac surgery and interventional cardiac groups; the earliest date we foresee would be in September, but we may need to wait until next year before attempting a project this major.

For the time being, we don’t want to bring students or residents to the country, but hope to resume this practice in the near future when we’re sure it’s safe.  We do hope to bring one or two Nicaraguan students for a rotation in our hospital later this spring.

Most observers felt that our return would not be interpreted as a political statement.  In fact, of course, PHL has no political opinions and we will be careful to maintain this position.

Many of you have made very generous donations to us over time, including some this year.  What we have in mind now will incur some expenses, and we would encourage anyone with the inclination to support us financially to go ahead and do so.

Many thanks to all of you, and best wishes for the New Year.

John D. Rose MD

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.