Reprinted from the August 2012 Roots of Change newsletter
The program to bring primary health care to six poor neighborhoods bordering Lake Managua began in 2002 as a one-year pilot project. Father Denis Hebert met with leaders from the six neighborhoods (barrios) to review the need of the residents who were at risk of disease from lack of garbage collection, insufficient drinking water, poor water storage, and lack of wastewater drainage.
Father was eager to initiate this project and immediately shared the need with his missionary friend Gordon Carter who worked at St Joseph’s Hospital in Comox BC. Gordon, in turn, approached the Hospital staff with a proposal to raise the funds necessary to establish and operate the neighborhood clinics. The response of the hospital staff was overwhelmingly positive, showing great generosity and compassion for the people of Nicaragua. The Hospital staff agreed to support residents of the six barrios by funding free medical consultations and medications.
Within weeks of this news, six satellite clinics were established in private homes where the woman of the home was trained in medical first aid. These women became assistants to a doctor who would make weekly visits. It quickly became evident that having medical services available in a prompt and timely manner was having a favorable impact on the health of children in particular.
Service hours were extended beyond the doctor’s weekly visits by training the assistants to take blood pressure and dispense key drugs. The assistants attend to minor concerns and direct serious cases to the nearest health center or public hospital. The most common diseases among children are acute diarrhea, respiratory diseases, parasites, malnutrition, anemia and skin diseases.
Through their dedicated efforts the staff of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox BC have supported the Satellite Clinics and other projects coordinated through FUNDACCO for over ten years. In recognition of the successful partnership of FUNDACCO and St. Joseph’s Hospital staff, a series of galas were organized in each neighborhood to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Satellite Program. The celebrants shared their stories of care-giving and of the impact of the improved health services on the patients and their families.
Some parents participating in the celebration also expressed gratitude for the brotherhood of Father Denis and the people who donate money to this project; their support has led to a significant improvement in prevention and recovery for both children and adults. This is much appreciated in the barrios because the state cannot yet meet the health needs of the people, and it is therefore necessary and important that the satellite clinics continue to operate in the neighborhoods.
In March 2012 a Canadian delegation from Edmonton attended celebrations in the barrio of Brisas Xolotlan. At this event a local youth group organized a cultural gala that featured children expressing in song, dance and drama the importance of having a physician in their community. Similar galas were held in each barrio where residents, medical assistants and FUNDACCO organizers celebrated together the success of the medical clinics in improving health in the communities, especially for children