Monday, July 15, 2013

Radiology at the Clinic

Jorge and patient with nurse Jane in 2001
Dr. Jorge Flores was our first doctor in the Nueva Vida clinic.  In July of 1999 we “inherited” the temporary clinic in Nueva Vida from a man who spent his life working in places that experience natural disasters. When Hurricane Mitch hit Nicaragua, the neighborhood of Nueva Vida was created from its victims who were flooded out of their homes near Lake Managua.  This man had committed to sponsoring and overseeing a clinic for six months, and he had hired Jorge to work half-time.

When we took over the clinic, I thought maybe it would be better to interview multiple candidates for the physician’s job and start fresh.  The Nueva Vida residents heard about that and had a different opinion.  They gathered signatures on a petition to keep Jorge on as the clinic’s physician.  We listened to the community, and boy, are we ever glad that we did! 

Jorge worked half-time for us for 10 years from 1999-2009 when he resigned in order to study radiology.  He received his radiology degree and is now back, working full-time with us. Currently he is treating patients from 8-5 Mon-Fri.  When we have an ultrasound machine (then x-ray, then mammogram capabilities, etc.), he will do radiology work during the hours that our other part-time doctors are seeing patients.  He will be our general physician during the hours when the pediatrician and the other general physician are not at the clinic.

Jorge and patient 2013
This will feed two birds with one piece of bread.  We will have 8-5 medical coverage by a doctor and we will be able to have a more integrated and holistic approach to our health care.

We have submitted two applications to received donated ultrasound machines, and are also looking for funds to buy one either used or new.  We prefer a portable one that will allow for examinations in the patient’s homes when they unable come to the clinic.  Jorge could also take a portable machine to more rural areas and to smaller towns.

Currently residents of Ciudad Sandino have to travel 10-25 kilometers to Managua to be put on a waiting list for an ultrasound in the public health care system.  While the ultrasound machine will be useful for all kinds of conditions, one example of how we will use the machine is in pregnancy.

Nicaragua has 21 cases of infant mortality per 1,000 live births (these are children who die before their first birthday); 12 cases of neonatal mortality per 1,000 live births (these are children who die before they are 28 days old); and 84 cases of maternal mortality per 100,000 live births (these are mothers who die during or shortly after they give birth).
The United States – which is not at the top of the list in the world due to its increasing poverty – has about 1/4 of these deaths.

Having access to ultrasounds will enable us to attempt to lower these statistics… or in lay terms: save the lives of babies and mommies.  -Kathleen