MEDICO Returns to Honduras post COVID


For the last 16 months, COVID-related travel restrictions prevented MEDICO from placing any medical, educational or construction teams in the field in Honduras. During that time, we shifted gears and began shipping COVID-related medical supplies to hard-hit Honduran hospitals. Locating N95 masks, gowns and gloves in the US wasn’t easy in early 2020 but for many Honduran doctors and nurses, MEDICO was their only access to these critical protective items. For those of you who sent us donations during this time, these doctors and nurses, not to mention their families and patients, thank you. Your donations saved lives.

Then the storms struck. In November of 2020, Hurricanes Eta and Iota, both massive Category storms, hit near the Honduran-Nicaraguan border within 10 days of one another. In the immediate aftermath, MEDICO notified local Honduran doctors that they could break into MEDICO’s medical supply kits and use whatever they needed. We funded emergency food relief. MEDICO located supply sources in Tegucigalpa and began shipping needed medications and supplies to remote hospitals and clinics. We arranged for emergency repairs to several damaged clinics and schools.

Now, with the advent of effective vaccines, MEDICO is returning to the field. During the second week of June, 2021, MEDICO volunteers Craig McBurnett, Lynda Peters, Steve Esposito DDS and Mike Moxness RN traveled to Gracias a Dios, Honduras. Joining us there was Elena Marley, retired director of the Ministry of Health. The primary goal was to perform tasks to enable MEDICO to resume placement of medical/dental clinical teams following the hiatus caused by COVID travel restrictions. We sorted, inspected and inventoried the medical, dental and camping supplies we had staged in Puerto Lempira for team use. We used to opportunity to separate out supplies for donation to the Ministry of Health and the Puerto Lempira hospital.  We are now arranging for resupply of the team kit so that our medical/dental/educational teams can return in full force this fall.

When the work on the kit was completed, the team took a day to drive by 4WD truck to Mocoron, a community several hours to the south where the Norma Love Foundation has hosted several MEDICO field teams in the past. Following the hurricanes, we had provided emergency funding to the Foundation to repair hurricane damage and to replenish their medical supplies. There is more work to do but we were happy to see the Foundation up and running, providing educational and medical services to their community.

We then traveled by boat across the enormous Laguna de Caratasca to inspect the clinic in the village of Yahorabila. MEDICO has arranged for and funded the replacement of the roof and other repairs to the clinic. Additional work is needed but the immediate repairs have the clinic up and running. Lynda and Steve returned to the United States after the first week, but Craig and Mike remained to work with Elena doing additional assessments and inspections. We met twice with the new Director of the Ministry of Health in Puerto Lempira. Dr. Duval has just assumed his posting and we were happy to meet with him to initiate cooperative efforts for health care.

Craig, Mike and Elena joined Dr. Marianne Serkland MD, who lives in Puerto Lempira for a trip to Iralaya, a community in the far southeast of the Department of Gracias a Dios. The community clinic is designated as a high priority by the Ministry of Health due to the storm damage and the remote location. Logistically, Iralaya would be a complex project, but MEDICO is already working out details on how we can support a repair and construction team. The clinic has neither latrines nor water supply, so these needs are at the top of our lists. You’ll be hearing more news on this work soon.

Ahuas is a community over 40 miles northwest of Puerto Lempira, located near the Patuca River in central Gracias a Dios. There are no roads or water routes connecting it to Puerto Lempira . Access is either from the west via the Rio Patuca or by air via a very primitive air strip. Ahuas village is the administration center for the vast surrounding area. There is a Moravian church clinic there. However, the two village clinics outside of Ahuas that we inspected are in desperately poor condition.

 A full assessment of these and surrounding clinics was beyond the reach of this first team. However, it was immediately apparent that these community nurses and their clinics really need our help.

And so after more than a year of being limited to remote measures, MEDICO is back in the field. We are about to announce the scheduling for three full medical-dental teams, the first of which will be deployed this fall. We have construction and repair work actively ongoing in two clinics with many more in the queue.

We invite you to join us. With the exception of a few incidentals, 100% of MEDICO’s donations are spent on the ground in Honduras. There has always been a need but now, during the pandemic and after the hurricanes, your donations directly improve and even save lives.

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