Shoulder to Shoulder and the Honduran Ministry of Health partner to bring new technology and safer deliveries to the frontera.
Hombro a Hombro and the Ministry of Health have partnered in a telemedicine program to improve prenatal and maternity care in the frontera. The new ultrasound imaging devices, housed at both the Concepción and Santa Lucia clinics, send images to obstetric specialists. The site is staffed 24 hours a day, allowing Shoulder to Shoulder and social service physicians to consult with clinicians for any issue at any time. As an added benefit, the telemedicine program allows Dr. Rubén Martínez, Dra. Rosbinda Vaquedano, and the Santa Lucia and Concepción medical professionals to receive advanced training without leaving the frontera.
Dr. Martínez explains that although our clinics have provided ultrasounds for many years, this program provides additional support and expertise in determining fetal position and any potential abnormalities or complications. Now Shoulder to Shoulder physicians and social service doctors can provide an enhanced level of care for mothers never before seen in the frontier. They send these images to delivery experts in Tegucigalpa and can consult with them by phone during labor. Such connectivity allows another trained physician to be in the room in a virtual capacity. Most importantly, this will reduce the number of high-risk births we refer the four hours over rough roads to La Esperanza and beyond.
Additionally, for patients we have identified as high-risk pregnancies or anticipate high-risk births, La Esperanza Hospital Dr. Enrique Aguilar Cerrato has recently opened a hogar (home away from home) where frontera women can stay in the days before they give birth. This eliminates the stress and danger of traveling to La Esperanza in the hours before – or during – birth. As our partnership with the Ministry of Health evolves, this telemedicine program illustrates how Shoulder to Shoulder and government health officials are working to bring improved health care to the people of Intibucá.
Following up on our recent retreat with Yo Puedo's student program participants, featured in our January newsletter, the education team gathered Yo Puedo’s participating teachers to discuss the program’s goals and results. This program, which means, “I can,” operates in 16 schools, all within our overall health network. It aims to equip girls in the fifth and sixth grades with the tools necessary to learn social and entrepreneurial leadership skills. Coordinated by Honduran administration and lead at the schools by dedicated teachers, they work with the girls in these “clubs” to increase their self-awareness and self-esteem while teaching basic business skills. They are taught to make handicrafts, to identify their personal values and self esteem, basic hygiene, as well as how to make wise decisions and evade peer pressure.
With the help of Director Sonia Lopez and volunteer education and girls’ leadership specialist Becca Kelley, eighteen teachers met in Camasca to review Yo Puedo’s past programming and results, and to discuss future improvements. Through discussion and debate, the teachers shared innovative solutions to improve the program. Kelley and Lopez created an analysis of the retreat and distributed the findings to Shoulder to Shoulder’s Board of Directors for consideration. The group found the weekend effective and instructive, and will reconvene this summer to discuss the results of the improvements that went into effect over the last several months.
Following the retreat, Kelley interviewed 8 sixth graders in Las Marias, a community in Santa Lucia that participates in Yo Puedo. Every girl shared they liked having time with “just the girls.” In small communities, with many generations living and sleeping often in the same room, it is difficult for young girls to find the time and space to be alone with other female peers. The participants discussed feelings of pride in the handicrafts they made and sold in their community, a component of making each participant school self-sustaining. The eight girls agreed Yo Puedo was helping them grow more independent, and inspiring them to work to become teachers, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. To learn more about Yo Puedo and how you can be a part of changing girls' lives, visit our website.
This past February 14, Día de la Amistad y Día del Amor (Day of Friendship and Love), the students at our Intibucá Bilingual School of the Frontier took some time to celebrate each other. During the morning, the children played games and read English stories. For the games, Red Rover, Red Light-Green Light, and Simon Says were among a few of the favorites.
Before lunch, they hit the piñata and played outdoor games, followed by a lunch prepared by Profesoras Minsis and Vivian. The schoolchildren completed the day with a banana split. As befitting any child, they were very appreciative to have a day free from lessons to enjoy the company of their great classmates and teachers. You can learn more about the bilingual school here.
An hour's drive from Santa Lucia over broken and dusty roads brings you to the community of El Castaño. In a three-sided dwelling constructed of wood and tarp resides a seventeen year old named Irma and her eleven day old baby. She stands near her bed – a handmade wooden frame, elastic cord, and a straw mat to cover the top. Next to her are big sticks with sheets hanging from them to divide the thirty foot by thirty foot room that she shares with her husband, his family, and other family members.
CMI Santa Lucia Supervisor Mardy Rodriguez visited Irma and her daughter after learning she had been born at home with an untrained community midwife. The infant was born weighing less than 5 pounds, and had yet to see any medical professionals or receive vaccinations. If Irma had experienced any complications during delivery, she would have walked six hours to the CMI in Santa Lucia, and this story would likely not have a happy ending.
Irma’s story is not uncommon in the frontera. In the more rural areas of Honduras, it many young girls to become pregnant and to deliver at home without the help of any medical professionals. Shoulder to Shoulder sets aside medical funds in our Alto Riesgo (High Risk) fund for girls like Irma to deliver in our more secure environment, like our Clinicas Maternal Infantil at Santa Lucia and Concepción, both of which have pre-term hogars to house low-resource expecting mothers. Unfortunately, even after offering to pay for transport, Irma refused to come to our clinic to deliver her baby.
After learning of the birth, Lic. Mardy visited Irma to provide a check up and show Irma how to care for her baby. Shoulder to Shoulder would like to provide Irma and other young mothers like her extra money for food and transportation to the clinic that is funded through our Alto Riesgo (high risk) fund. These efforts, though low-cost, produce life-changing effects in those we can help. Your contributions to Shoulder to Shoulder allow us to provide care for these most at-risk patients. For more information on the Alto Riesgo fund and how you can help, please visit our website.
Just elected to his third term, Miguel Bautista has been working as mayor of the municipality of San Marcos de la Sierra since 2006. Before becoming mayor, Alcalde Bautista taught technical education for 25 year in the local colegio, or high school. He became interested in civil service after seeing the changes being made in his school. In his upcoming four year term, he is looking forward to building on his previous work in citizen security and basic sanitation and agriculture training for his citizens. His top priorities are constructing new roads to the towns within San Marcos de la Sierra and providing electricity to the many residents and areas without access.
Alcalde Bautista admits that unemployment is one of the biggest issues within the municipality. Because of this, he is focused on improving the health and education needs of his community. Shoulder to Shoulder is proud to work with Miguel Bautista and we are happy to continue a great working relationship him and his community.
In just the first few months of 2014, Shoulder to Shoulder hosted seven wonderful brigades from universities across the United States.
We thank you all for your time in Honduras and look forward to seeing you all again soon!
Shoulder to Shoulder's two CMI clinics now enjoy new ultrasound machines which allow remote collaboration with physicians in Tegucigalpa. To learn more about the new partnership and program, click here.
Yo Puedo Teachers' Retreat
Yo Puedo teachers came together to evaluate and discuss ways to strengthen the Yo Puedo girls' leadership program. Read about their retreat here.
Kids' Day Off - Día de Amistad
Our Intibucá Bilingual School of the Frontier students took a day off from lectures and English classes to enjoy a day of love and friendship over Valentine's Day. Read about their day here.
Alto Riesgo Program
Read about Irma's story and Lic. Mardy's efforts to provide medical attention for Irma's newborn daughter in this issue.
Meet the Mayor of San Marcos de la Sierra
Mayor Miguel Bautista returns for his third term. Learn about his objectives for the San Marcos municipality here.
A Camasca schoolgirl hits the piñata during the Intibucá Bilingual School of the Frontier's Día de la Amistad y Amor.
Irma stands in her doorway with her 11-day-old daughter.
Yo Puedo teachers gather to discuss the program's future and how best to serve the young female participants.
Physicians from the Johns Hopkins Brigade and CMI nurse Rosa pose with a woman and her newborn after delivering her at the Santa Lucia CMI.
Brigade members pose outside a Guachipilincito school.
The entrance to Irma and her husband's family home in El Castaño.
Physicians suture a man who injured himself after falling down the steep incline of his mountainous subsistence farming plot.
Why Your Donation Matters
Every dollar you give makes a difference. Our clinics - even the accessible ones - are located at the end of service lines, four hours from the nearest gas station and eight hours from the nearest medical supplier. The tenuous electricity and telecommunications grids experience near daily outages during the rainy season, requiring us to run diesel generators to provide power to our dental clinics, our labor and delivery rooms, and for patient consultations. We use and abuse our trucks and motorcycles when sending our health promoters and EAP home health teams into the campo to provide rural healthcare and bring patients to our clinics. All of our regular expenses are compounded by our remote locations.
Your donation allows Dr. Rubén Martínez to take a woman in high-risk labor to the La Esperanza hospital four hours away. It puts gas in Milton Villanueva's motorcycle so he can check in on an 89- year-old homebound patient who lives two hours off the only major road. Your donation keeps our lights on when it is raining, there is no power, and a boy has badly cut himself with a machete while harvesting corn.
Ways to donate:
· Donate through our website and review all of the ways to contribute.
· Send a tax-deductible contribution to our accounting firm at:
Shoulder to Shoulder
Pohlman & Talmage CPAs
3445 S. Dixie Dr. #200
Dayton, OH 45439
· Provide a scholarship for a local student.
· Donate Spanish-language medical textbooks or journals for our physicians.
· Travel on a brigade or volunteer with us.
· Shop Amazon via our website and Shoulder to Shoulder receives up to 6% of your purchase at no cost to you.
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