Nursing Heart Partners with Johns Hopkins University to Bring Clean Water and Improve Sanitation in Pacoxpon 

From Wells to Well-being: Transforming Water Infrastructure and Sanitation in Pacoxpon - Phase 1
In 2019 and 2020,  Nursing Heart partnered with the Johns Hopkins (JHU) School of Nursing to undertake a new public health program with the community of Pacoxpon. The people of Pacoxpon sought to provide a broader range of health resources to their community and reached out to NHI as a trusted partner, having benefited from clinical activities in years prior. With guidance from faculty and after extensive meetings between NHI and the community, JHU students undertook a public health survey with Pacoxpon households. The results of the survey informed community needs assessments and health interventions, and formed the foundation of a multi-phase Water and Sanitation (WASH) Program that was completed in July 2023. 
The assessments identified that a critical lack of water infrastructure in the village was a source of negative health outcomes. These findings  prompted Pacoxpon’s Leadership, represented by the Committee for Community Development (COCODE), and Parents Committees, to approach Nursing Heart with a formal request for help to improve the community’s water needs. 
The first phase of the project entailed the installation of rainwater catchment tanks, or “Tinacos”, for the 43 families who lacked running water in their homes. 
From Wells To Well-Being: Transforming Water Infrastructure And Sanitation In Pacoxpon - Phase 2
The second phase of the project led Nursing Heart  to intervene on behalf of the school community in Pacoxpon, whereby we identified severely inadequate washing stations and bathroom facilities in the elementary school and Pre-Kindergarten program. At the behest of the directors of the two schools, the Nursing Heart team coordinated the repair of the water cistern at the primary school, prior to which precious (and abundant!) rainwater could not be captured for use in the lavatories nor for handwashing, and furthermore was leaking into the playground creating a safety hazard. 
At the Pre-Kinder facility, we evaluated what turned out to be an unsanitary lavatory and faulty water tank on top of a tower structure that had structural vulnerabilities. Nursing Heart sprang into action in September 2022 and coordinated a full renovation of the facilities. Our work now provides students, teachers, and families with a clean and safe water supply. 
The project was inaugurated in August 2023 with a community-wide celebration!

Surveys Help Nurses Better Understand the Healthcare Needs of a Region

In January 2023 Nursing Heart partnered with our longtime allies at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Nursing Heart and UMN conducted another extensive Community Needs Assessment in the village of Tierra Colorada. Nurse Practitioner students from UMN worked together with Nursing Heart’s Community Health Workers to survey dozens of families in Tierra Colorada.

First, UMN students and faculty updated and refined the Health Assessment survey. They identified health trends and patterns with the long-term goal of tailoring interventions to improve health outcomes with support from village leadership. Groups that featured UMN Nurses and faculty, Community Health Workers, interpreters, Nursing Heart staff, and representatives of the Tierra Colorada village council trekked across the expansive, mountainous village and performed assessments with 70 households to gain a significant sample size for analyzing health concerns.

The surveys were conducted during three days of engagement with families. The Nursing Heart and student group came to learn about conditions on the ground that were negatively impacting the health of the residents.

Together the nurses, Nursing Heart team, and Community Health Workers analyzed the data and identified patterns that we presented to Tierra Colorada leadership with suggestions for how to work together to mitigate some of the prevalent health concerns.During the next several months this process was replicated in five other villages in San Martin where Nursing Heart has the presence of at least one Community Health Worker These additional surveys provided clear snapshots of health issues in the area – information that will inform program and clinical decisions into the future.

As of August 2023, Nursing Heart has continued, alongside key partners that include UMN, Johns Hopkins University, and Proyecto Impulso to design initiatives that the Community Health Workers can implement in their communities to manage the health issues that came to light through this arduous and collaborative process.

Facilities Development

Nursing Heart volunteers and partners work closely with Hombres y Mujeres en Accion, a nonprofit regional clinic regional to which Nursing Heart refers patients for follow-up care, to construct clinics, community centers, and community kitchens that improve community health. Our regional allies screen and engage in development work with the communities who request these facilities. Nursing Heart coordinates visiting groups to work alongside local masons, carpenters and construction professionals to construct new facilities. One of our goals is to facilitate fundraising with visiting groups for the construction of these facilities so that the families in the villages can rely on clean, healthy and well-designed facilities that will promote positive health outcomes.

Chapina Stoves

Globally, nearly three billion people use polluting and inefficient stoves or open flames to cook their food. Exposure to cooking smoke kills approximately two million people worldwide every year. In Guatemala, breathing in the toxic fumes while preparing tortillas and frijoles puts Maya women and children at risk for respiratory illnesses, blindness and burns on a daily basis.
The use of the Chapina stove provides:
99% of reduction of smoke inside the house
69% savings on firewood compared to consumption on open fire stoves
Decreased incidence of respiratory diseases, skin cancer and direct exposure to fire.
Scroll to Top