I hope you are all well and having a nice week!
I wanted to start off the updates page on our brand-new website by discussing the success of our last trip to Costa Rica!!
Along with a group of 14 medical students and residents, Seth and I went down to Costa Rica for the third time this year in June with many goals and 500lbs of donated supplies. What we were able to accomplish during our time there was more than we could have ever expected.
Firstly, we spent time in the adult and the pediatric emergency department in a hospital in San Jose as well as a pediatric outpatient and pulmonology clinic – we met with academic faculty members who have allowed our students to observe at their hospitals. While there, we discussed what their hospitals were in need of, mainly supplies and educational resources (access to EB medicine, board review courses and up to date access). We also spent time in a several local clinics that are run by non-emergency medicine trained faculty but act as a 24-hour ER without the resources, the staff or the training for that to be possible. They are serving a large and poor community that can wait up to a day to be seen by a doctor than may or may not be able to help them. We did a needs assessment and are coming up with a plan to help alleviate some of the burdens that they face.
We also spent time volunteering at a “daycare” and an orphanage. The daycare is located in a rough neighborhood where the kids either have one or both parents in prison, live in houses with no electricity or water and get fed and bathed at the daycare as they will not get fed or bathed at home. We learned from talking to people in the community that learning English is important for success in Costa Rica. We spent time teaching the kids English as well as teaching the kids and the staff about health, hygiene and dental care. The orphanage we visited was high security – The kids there were removed from their homes due to physical, emotional or sexual abuse. We felt that what we collected and brought from the US wasn’t enough so we used the money we collected from our nonprofit to go on an orphanage shopping spree at the Costa Rican dollar store equivalent and we got them a lot of great things that they needed. The adoption process can take 5 to 7 years there so a lot of the kids won’t be placed in permanent homes or with families for a really long time – we hope that we can bring them some happiness and make things easier for them. We were also able to use our non-profit donations to give aid, food and supplies to a local drug and rehab center outside of San Jose for adolescent girls. Our time and effort really went a long way.
We volunteered with our students at two different nursing facilities found an hour bus ride outside of San Jose. The facilities are run by the Catholic church and rely heavily on donations in order to function. We gave them a ton of supplies that we got from local offices and hospitals. Our students helped feed and bathe the elderly patients, helped with the physical therapy and also provided wound care. The staff there was wonderful and we are happy to be able to help them.
We have some pretty big goals for the next year. We are hoping to grow our nonprofit and extend aid to other countries including Honduras and Kenya (this upcoming summer I will be spending a month in Kenya teaching their physicians emergency medicine), perhaps expand our program to include other hospitals, schools and residency programs, and even set up a scholarship program for kids down in Costa Rica for them to be able to get a better education.
We have been given the opportunity to have a booth in the Exhibition hall at ACEP 2018 San Diego. So please stop by to say hi! We can talk about our mission, our program, how to get involved and perhaps find a way to work together to make our goals a POSIBILIDAD!
If you are interested in donating or need more information, everything can be found on our website. If you have questions, do not hesitate contacting us, we would love to hear from you.
Thank you again and again for your support – Hope to meet you all soon!
Cristina and Seth