I spent last week on a medical mission in Nicaragua with my family and a team of providers, offering medical care to residents of several villages near our home base in San Ramon. We have been down three times in the last five years, and it is a rewarding way to give back using my abilities as a nurse.
With such limited access to medical care, the need was overwhelming. Armed with only basic medications and no ability to perform complex procedures, it was easy to feel ineffective or helpless. But what we were able to provide – the antibiotics, and the anti-fungal and anti-parasite medications – made a big difference to those we were able to help. In some cases, it may have saved their lives. If people like us keep showing up to help, more and more patients can get care. Every little bit helps to make a big impact.
At WSHA we often talk about social determinates of health, and you can see that in Nicaragua as well. The nonprofit we work with, Corner of Love, has developed a milk distribution program to improve nutrition for children, which has helped them grow stronger. The organization is also drilling wells for fresh drinking water, and it’s partnering with educators to provide access to better schooling so students can learn trades and get better jobs. The more resources there are, the better the health outcomes.
These trips always make me thankful for our health care system, which can be easy to take for granted. As imperfect as it is, we are blessed with a wealth of resources that work to ensure everyone has access to medical care. Whether in America or a country like Nicaragua, if patients cannot access medical care, they’ll go without it. It serves as a big reminder of the importance of our work at WSHA.
WSHA Executive Vice President