Impact Ecuador: Why MedShare Matters

 

The following entry was written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Mendal Bouknight. Serving as a MedShare Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Mendal Bouknight is a dedicated advocate for MedShare’s global mission having been introduced while President of the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont is a founding partner of MedShare. During his career, Mendal served in senior leadership roles with Emory University; Clemson University, his alma mater; and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.  He currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. You can see Mendal’s previous post here.

 

The Underlying Reality: WHY MedShare Matters

Our partners in Ecuador, the Junta, are like every other country/community MedShare touches. Between the donations MedShare delivers and those donations actually touching someone and benefiting them are complexities of culture and politics.

Ecuador’s system for caring for the needy and underserved falls to our partners, the Junta. Funding for Junta comes from the national lottery. And when that lottery is thriving is still only accounts for 70% of the cost needed. Layer on the fact that the country’s new political leadership has withheld distribution of lottery proceeds (currently the Junta is owed $140 million by the government) as they attempt to determine priorities for the country.

We heard stories of the challenges Junta had in distributing resources to northern Ecuador following the earthquake of 2015. Much had to do with local authorities and the drug cartels in that region of Ecuador which borders Columbia. These kinds of economic and governmental difficulties –difficulties that are so far-removed from our day-to-day experiences in the US– continue to be barriers to progress and stronger health systems. We were able to see first-hand the complexity of the challenges faced by our partners abroad and better understand their needs within that context.

 

Summary

Our partners in Ecuador are as resilient as they are grateful for all MedShare provides. They are devoted to their work with the Junta and to what they do for their fellow Ecuadorians. For every country and community MedShare serves, we are reliant on devoted people like Ernesto, Isabel, and Sister Annie. We are reliant on the physicians, the businessman who operates several of the hospitals we visited, the nuns in Alausi, the caretakers at Damien House, and the commitment and culture of industry leaders at Ingenio San Carlos.

MedShare benefits from the leadership and talent of our staff. Charles Redding is respected by the Junta and known for his leadership. Cristi Wells, while new in her role, displayed her resourcefulness and her professional skills throughout the trip.

Our ability as a Board, volunteers, business partners, and as a staff to continue our noble mission must always have, front and center in our work, institutions like Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil. For without them, our generosity could not be realized.

 

 

MedShare continues our invaluable relationship with Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil in Eucador. To cap-off another impactful fiscal year, MedShare made two donations of medical supplies and biomedical equipment to Junta, with more to come!

Ecuador Impact Trip: Caring Communities

 

The following entry was written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Mendal Bouknight. Serving as a MedShare Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Mendal Bouknight is a dedicated advocate for MedShare’s global mission having been introduced while President of the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont is a founding partner of MedShare. During his career, Mendal served in senior leadership roles with Emory University; Clemson University, his alma mater; and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.  He currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. You can see Mendal’s previous post here.

 

Visit to Damien House

Damien House clarified for me the fact that leprosy (Hansen disease) is not contagious. And the more important outreach we could give with a simple touch and hug to the residents living there would be powerful. The moment our party walked through the door, we each reached out to those who greeted us and provided the subtle human interaction their families and their culture had isolated them from experiencing.

 

Embraced in 1988 by a nun from America, Sister Annie Credidio, of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, B.V.M.  Sister Annie has made the people of Damien House her purpose. And with young American volunteers and the support of the Junta and MedShare, the men and women of Damien House are embraced in an understanding and compassionate community.

The Community of San Carlos

Employing as many at 3,700 people and embracing the entire family and community around, Ingenio San Carlos is a successful sugar cane enterprise that has existed and thrived for 120 years. To their credit, this family-owned business understands their success is founded in their investment in their people and their families.

Our party was the honored guest at a celebration where new wheelchairs were presented to more than a dozen residents with severe physical/ambulatory disorders. For one family where four adults were afflicted, the one sibling not impacted and caring for her siblings was overcome with gratitude and praise.

We were hosted at the local school, funded by San Carlos, visiting various classrooms, seeing the access these students have to current technology and the exposure they have to the arts. We were serenaded by a young girl with a beautiful voice and then by four young cellists performing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

We then toured the hospital provided by the company and saw the improvements in care over time thanks to Junta and MedShare.  From their Emergency Department to their diagnostic facilities to their on Obstetrician who delivers 25 babies a week, you see the importance quality healthcare means to a community of 13,000 + relying on this one industry for everyone’s wellbeing.

The Path to Healing & Helping in Guatemala

The following entry was written by Victoria Valikova, medical doctor and founder of Health & Help. It is a follow-up piece to Victoria’s first post. Health & Help recently opened their clinic in Chuinajtajuyub, Guatemala with the help of MedShare.

When you realize that you have the power to change something, you have two paths you can take from that moment on: go home and forget about what you just saw, or go and change something.

Health & Help’s people are dreamers. We dreamed about what we could do here in Guatemala, in a remote village called Chuinajtajuyub. So we built a clinic, a clinic that would spend every day, 7/24, attending to people in need.

We started from the very basic: we opened a health facility in a local school. Now we have a clinic with three consultation rooms, a laboratory, a pharmacy, and three beds for our in-patient room. Volunteers live on-site and provide permanent support in emergency situations. We assist deliveries, suture machete cut wounds, and help severely sick patients every day. Quickly, we became the number one health center in our area. People are sure when they come to us they will get help and support.

Health & Help Clinic works with severely malnourished kids and elderly people. We provide education and treatment for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. We promote family planning and we take care of pregnant women in every trimester of pregnancy.

We have a nice team of professionals and we’re always searching for more volunteers to work with us. If you are interested to work in Guatemalan mountain village – please contact us at viktoriya.valikova@gmail.com.

Last, but not least: we have a great friend, their name is MedShare. They make our work so much easier because with them we don’t have to worry about running out of medical supplies. We always have materials to take care of our patients. We are always sure that we will be able to help, because of them.

From Guatemala with love,

Victoria

Medshare Aids Women’s Healthcare in Micronesia

The following entry was written by Juliane Poirier, a team member with Canvasback Missions,  a Medical Mission Team supplied by MedShare.

Canvasback Missions, of Benicia, California, was recently aided by Medshare in sending a well-supplied team of U.S. health professionals to Micronesia, Feb. 3 – 17, 2017. Canvasback’s 20 volunteers operated a free women’s health clinic on Majuro, capital of the RMI (Republic of the Marshall Islands).

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The clinic waiting room was packed with patients. During the two-week clinic, medical volunteers provided more than 450 medical consultations while simultaneously teaching Marshallese nurse-practitioner students, who translated for patients and staff. The needs were great, both among the nursing students and the patients eager to be seen by a doctor.

A clinic worker on her first trip to the islands described being touched not only by the beauty of the islands, but by the kindness and generosity of the Marshallese. It was reported, for example, that not one person complained at the clinic, even though they were obliged to wait their turn for much longer than would be tolerated in the U.S. A number of Marshallese women waited patiently for up to 10 hours—including those well past middle-age— to been examined for the first time in their lives by a gynecologist.

Some had suffered for years with afflictions requiring medical procedures not routinely available to them on their remote home islands. A 25-pound cyst was removed from one woman’s ovaries and, unrelated to gynecology, a 55-year old male was relieved of pain from a severe liver abscess when our radiologist drained 40 cc. from the man’s liver. The Canvasback physicians also worked cooperatively with Marshallese doctors at the Majuro Hospital on a number of patient diagnoses which were aided by the ultrasound, cytology and radiation results provided by medical volunteers.

 

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Overall, there were 34 operations performed, 711 clinical procedures completed, and 61 medications dispensed in the course of the clinic, as our team diagnosed many cases of cervical cancer which, in the U.S. is considered a preventable disease.

“Most women can avoid cervical cancer by routine screenings,” explained Canvasback volunteer Kathy Nelson, a gynecologist from Montana.

One 40-year-old woman who came to the clinic was diagnosed with cervical cancer so advanced that she had only months to live. Marshallese women diagnosed with cervical cancer must have more than a 50 percent survival expectation in order to be sent, at RMI government expense, to an off-island location for treatment; otherwise, they are provided with palliative care.

In this isolated region of the Pacific, diabetes is epidemic among both old and young. But positive changes are taking place to extend the health and vitality of Marshall Islanders. Canvasback runs a Wellness Center on Majuro, providing diabetes prevention education, affordable and healthy meals, exercise classes in an air-conditioned gym, and educational materials for improved lifestyle habits, including vegetable gardening.

Canvasback Missions has been sending medical specialty teams and supplies to Micronesia for over 35 years. Medshare has been helping tremendously with supply donations to help Canvasback teams provide critically needed healthcare for people of these remote Pacific islands.

 

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