COVID-19 UPDATE - AUGUST 2020
Covid-19 update: The delta variant has ravaged Guatemala, with almost all municipalities in Red or Orange status (High cases per population). The communities that were previously isolated and relatively COVID-free are now seeing deaths and peaks of cases as locals returned to work and their regular lives. Even though mandatory mask-wearing has been in place since March 2020 and social distancing restrictions are in force across the country, the vaccination rate is at a slow 1.6% and doesn’t appear to be moving fast. We watch and wait to see what eventuates with little health infrastructure, hospitals at 93% capacity and collapsing, and a slow voluntary-vaccine rollout.
NURSING HEART’S commitment to supporting the vaccine rollout.
Careful consideration must be taken when initiating and supporting the vaccine drive in Guatemala, says Blanqui, our community coordinator. Guatemalan’s still feel nervous and insecure about the government and their health services. Questions and concerns we have heard frequently are, “do we know the vaccine is the covid vaccine and not something else?”, ” I heard it has a chip in it to control us”, “it contains the virus to infect us”. With an inbuilt and long-seeded distrust with the government, We can only support the communities with education and access without pushing them and imposing ideas that may jeopardize the trust we have built with them over the years? When working in Guatemala especially, trust is so important.
After deep reflection, discussion, and listening to the needs, fears, and desires of the communities, we are offering on request:
- Information and health resources to those who request more information and to the leaders of the communities
- Transport to and from vaccine centers
- Masks and alcohol gel for those who have to travel
- Follow-up post vaccines and reminders of second doses.
It’s a real shame we didn’t develop our Community Health Worker program previously. We would have had a vital resource to provide valuable support to the populations but we are content knowing that this service will be available very very soon.
Women's Health Clinics - December 2020
Today December 9, 2020 we are in Simajuleo a small villiage in the area of San Martin. Setting up for a women’s clinic.
We were supposed to visit this community back in March but when our visiting nurse groups were cancelled and COVID-19 stopped all activities, we couldn’t keep our commitment to them.
Our relationships with our communities are the true heart of Nursing Heart and we promised them; As soon as it’s safe and you’re willing, we will bring our health services to you again.
After 8 months of regular phone calls with leaders and coordination with Dra. Paty from @faithinpractice we have been able to offer women’s health services again!
Cervical cancer is the biggest cancer killer of women, in Guatemala.
Late detection, barriers to receiving health care and check-ups and lack of health education are some of the causes of this sad statistic.
If detected early, cervical cancer is curable and preventable.
With regular Pap smears, cervical cancer can be avoided all together.
We provide yearly women’s clinics, are responsible for all follow-up and work with partner organizations; @people_for_guatemala & @faithinpractice and also for ongoing care.
A gift of $25 covers cervical cancer screening, treatments, follow-up and sexual health education for a women (and her partner) Turn that into a monthly gift and you will support 12 women/couples.
#publichealth #womenshealth #nursing#nursingheart #globalhealth#cervicalcancer #donate #love#guatemala #ruralhealth
Abridged School Health Clinics - November & December 2020
Our school clinics focus on health prevention. We usually provide a full head to toe assessment, dental hygiene education and anti parasite treatment.
A majority of the waterways in guatemala are polluted and most children drink contaminated water. There is a direct link between malnutrition and parasites.
The Guatemalan health department should provide parasite treatment to all children twice a year. We cover the gaps, those schools not covered by this program.
Due to COVID, schools are closed so Cesar and Blanqui spent the last two weeks visiting schools and delivering care packages to the children including dental hygiene kits and parasite treatment. The kits were delivered to teachers, directors or directly to the parents, observing full PPE precautions.
We are so happy to be continuing to offer our services to our partners in Guatemala.
Update on September 25, 2020
Guatemala is entering its second peak while preparing to more fully reopen. Over 3,000 people have died here since the beginning of the pandemic. We are finalizing plans with communities to ensure we can keep our commitments over the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Here is what’s happening with regard to COVID-19’s effect on our regular services:
–We are directly responding to individual appeals requesting assistance with access to medicine, protective equipment, and food.
–We are preparing and managing logistics for five school wellness “clinics” that will ensure the children will receive their regular treatment for parasites in a safe way. Likely, most students will be treated as part of their regular trip to school to pick up their remote learning materials. No fluoride treatments are planned this year due to the difficulty around ensuring these are done safely.
–In collaboration with our usual partners, we will be carrying out 12 women’s clinics over the next nine months. Communities and our organization are focusig on the importance of preventive care, as risk of exposure to COVID would mount exponentially once someone must seek treatment for cervical cancer or other disease. These clinics will serve over 300 women in 10 communities. Smaller groups will enable additional care to be given to previous patients who may need follow-up. Due to COVID concerns in the communities, no general clinics are planned at this time.
Update on July 28, 2020
Through your help this week we have been able to continue to support relief efforts in communities that have been further disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic.
Santa Maria de Jesús clinics
The first photo shows César providing care in the monthly diabetic/hypertensive clinic in Santa Maria de Jesús, where there have been 88 confirmed cases of COVID. This group of folks shares their thanks to you for supporting our abbreviated but still effective clinic efforts as they continue to really have no other way to access their necessary medical care.
Hogar de Ancianos
The second group of photos was taken at the Hogar de Ancianos in San Martín. A dropoff in donations from the community has made it impossible to ensure access to standard fruits and vegetables for the community of residents there. We’re working to fill the gap.
The third group was taken in El Limonar, at the far edge of Chimaltenango. We partnered with this small community to build a comunitario space in February. Because of its remote locale and lack of government support, families there are experiencing extreme difficulties. These supplies will help 12 families for the next month+. The community as a whole benefits, as those with the ability to do so are supporting those without through mutual aid.
Thank you to Blanqui and César for your dedication to these efforts and to all of you for supporting these communities. If you are able to help us continue providing relief, please click the button below.
Update on June 5, 2020:
The first round of relief packages has been delivered both to the ancianos in San Martín Jilotepeque and our regular monthly patients in Santa Maria de Jesús. We are planning for more deliveries during the month of June. Thank you to all who are supporting us in these efforts! To view more images, please visit us @nursingheartinc on Instagram or Facebook.
We want to thank everyone for their support and concern about the people of Guatemala during this time. The NHI team continues to work from home and gratefully are in good health and spirit.
45 days ago on March 13, Guatemala detected its first case of Coronavirus and we are now on day 43 of social distancing precautions. There are currently 500 confirmed cases, 49 recovered cases and 15 deaths as of last report April 26th.
To see more information, you can view information from the Ministerio de Salud Pública’s website.
How Guatemala is dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic as of Monday 27th April:
- #quedateencasa: Social distancing is encouraged for ALL
- There is a curfew of 6pm to 4am apart from health personnel and delivery services
- Only essential businesses can open and smaller businesses can open with strict hygiene and prevention protocols
- Public transport remains on hold
- Persons older than 60 are required to stay at home and not receive visitors
- Pregnant women and children are not to go to populated areas such as the market
- It is Mandatory for everyone to wear a mask when outside of the house, including inside a vehicle.
What are some of the effects of this on Guatemala?
Guatemala was already a country experiencing economic and social inequalities. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, these disparities are soaring. Food insecurity is not a new concept here, however the sheer number of people being affected is rising faster than can be supported. The government is providing some support with care packages and cash bonuses to those families registered, but a lot of indigenous and poor families are unregistered and unemployed.
As health professionals, we are aware how important social determinants of health are on health outcomes and that the essentials such as having access to a safe place to sleep and access to food are the most basic of human needs. We are facing an even bigger crisis than before and when it is safe to continue our work here, Nursing Heart will be needed more than ever.
How are we helping support our partner communities during this crisis?
During this public health crisis, Nursing Heart cannot be visiting any communities providing our usual health screening services. For this we have decided to pivot our focus to meet the current public health needs of our community partners. Our first step with our re-tweaked mission is to provide support to the most vulnerable populations; The elderly and those with chronic conditions.
Diabetes and Hypertensive Club
Nursing Heart is continuing to hold an abridged version of the Diabetes and Hypertensive club every month by supporting the members with medication distribution under strict hygiene protocols.
The members of the club, most of whom are above the age of 60, will be some of the first recipients of the food and care packages that will be delivered in the coming weeks.
‘Hogar de los ancianos’
The home for the elderly in San Martin Jilotepeque will be part of the first group to receive this aid. This initiative has come from us remaining in contact with our community leaders and analyzing their situation, identifying where they need support. Blanqui has been in communication with the nuns who run the home and they have expressed that they rely on local donations of food to survive. Due to the economic struggles facing most people, the donations of food and supplies have reduced or stopped all together.
What’s in our care packages?
We are providing a month’s supply of fruits, vegetables, grains, personal hygiene products, and cleaning products including alcohol gel for the whole family. For the aged care home we are also providing adult diapers.
If you are able to give a gift of a care package, just $50 provides enough food and hygiene products for a family for a month. Thank you and be well,