Project Health for León
PO Box 1209
Greenville, NC 27835
September 27, 2018
Dear friends and colleagues:
The Project Health for Leon had a board of directors meeting on Thursday, September 6, 2018. As most of you know, Nicaragua has been in severe turmoil for the past few months, including anti-government protests, police, military, and para-military violence with about 450 deaths, damage and burning of homes, restaurants, and businesses, the collapse of tourism and a severe decline in the economy. Because of the danger, and because we did not feel that we could accomplish our treatment goals, we were forced to cancel trips for July (Electrophysiology) and for September (cardiac surgery, catheter-based interventions, cardiac and general clinics, and participation of students and residents). In addition, many physicians have been fired for treating or advocating the treatment of injured and wounded protesters. PHL drafted a letter to the director of our hospital in Leon, supporting the physicians and opposing the ill treatment of physicians and nurses who adhere to their oath to treat the sick and injured. This letter was widely circulated and published in the major newspapers in the country. We have also signed a petition asking for free expression of those who work and attend the universities.
The real question is what to do next. We came up with several possible actions. First, we hope to return to Leon and continue our clinics and programs of advanced treatment. We will have to be sure that our teams are safe, that the hospital is functioning, that there is sufficient equipment, and that our colleagues; including physicians, nurses, and administration are there to work with us. We think that if the situation improves, we will send a small team to investigate the current circumstances and be reasonably sure that these stipulations are in place. Second, we hope to bring a few patients to the U.S. for cardiac surgery and intervention. This is always difficult to arrange, because even though we pay for transportation, passports and visas, and sometimes housing, the hospitals must agree to do the procedures gratis, at a cost usually amounting to $100,000 or more. Dr. David Hannon has arranged for congenital heart surgery at least twice recently and has shown that this can be done. Finally, many Nicaraguan refugees have fled to Costa Rica, and we understand that they are in need of medical evaluation and treatment. If this is true and we can make the proper arrangements, we may take a group to Costa Rica, probably near the Nicaraguan border.
We thank you all for your interest, support, and participation. We want you to know that we remain committed to continuing this program, which has been beneficial to many patients in Nicaragua and a wonderful experience to those of us who participate.