In 2012, Manna Project International and USF Health established a partnership with the goal of providing crucial primary care and health education to the underserved community of Cedro Galán. Together, USF Health Nicaragua and MPI have jointly run the Cedro Galán Clinic since its opening in October 2013. Last week we welcomed a group of volunteers from USF Health for a week of specialty care, medical education and capacity building in the Cedro Galán Clinic!
Internal medicine-pediatrics attending physicians Dr. Elimarys Perez-Colon and Dr. Brian Knox worked with internal medicine attending Dr. Martín Griangreco to lead medical students and public health students from USF Health. This team joined the Cedro Clinic’s Dra. Wendy, nurse Selma and MPI program directors to provide five days of free healthcare services in the Cedro Galán Clinic. I had the honor of co-hosting the group alongside fourth year USF medical student and former MPI program director, Nicole Teal.
We kicked the week off by meeting with our community advisory board to assess the community’s needs. The following afternoon, we arrived at Farito for our first day at clinic and found a line of patients already out the door! Thanks to a successful team effort by USF volunteers, Cedro Clinic staff, program directors and the community, we provided more than 250 patients with quality healthcare in a week! The community of Cedro Galán is especially thankful to Dr. Perez-Colon and Dr. Knox who provided over 100 children with well or acute care, and Dr. Giangreco who traveled throughout the community doing home visits for patients who were unable to travel to Farito. The week culminated with a record-breaking day of over 70 consultas.
While the sheer number of people who received general healthcare throughout the week is impressive, USF's main goal is to provide specialized, high quality care. Many individuals in Cedro Galán suffer from chronic conditions. These health conditions are difficult to manage due to lack of resources and education. For this reason, USF dedicated an entire clinic day to patients with complex and chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes. On Thursday, each patient received care and education specific to their condition from one of USF’s three specialists.
The shortage of doctors in Nicaragua (1 doctor for every 2,700 people) makes consistent medical treatment hard to find. To ensure that community members continue the care given in the past week, the USF team assessed available resources and created treatment guidelines for each chronic condition prevalent in the community of Cedro Galán. According to these guidelines, program directors have started a new tracking system that includes patient reminders, and Dr. Wendy will continue to monitor the treatment of our chronic patients until USF returns in March. The healthcare team, including both medical students and our Nicaraguan healthcare professionals, received capacity building throughout the week, including joint Spanish-English lectures about other common diagnoses in the population we serve and appropriate treatments.
Outside of the clinic, USF immersed themselves in MPI's programs to gain a greater understanding of holistic development. USF volunteers competed in a game of charades in English class, taught public school health classes, performed hemoglobin testing for children in MPI's Child Sponsorship program, implemented a fun handwashing activity at Camp JAM, and got some exercise in with Lacrosse The Nations. Their hard work was also interspersed with awesome excursions to Volcán Masaya, Granada and Laguna de Apollo.
The USF Health Executive Board, USF attending physicians, Manna Project International leadership and Cedro Clinic staff wrapped up the week with a discussion of future plans to improve the quality and sustainability of healthcare at the Cedro Galán Clinic. We look forward to USF’s return next March and to our continued partnership taking strides forward, together, for global health.
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