Dear Friend of the Clinic,
Please take a moment to imagine this scene…
As the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, surfers pack up their boards and tourists sip drinks on the beach. Not far away, Angelica Ruiz is giving birth at the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Health Clinic near Rancho Santana, Nicaragua.
Angelica is grateful she has somewhere clean and safe she can go to give birth, but she knows it will not be easy. The baby is early and she herself is not in the best health, like many people in the area. Residents of the region suffer from various ailments; respiratory problems are most prevalent, from dusty roads and pesticides from crops. There are also gastrointestinal illnesses from the lack of potable water, and lack of good nutrition.
Dr. Flores and his clinic team work hard through the night to deliver Angelica’s son. But it is soon clear that the baby needs neonatal intensive care, and must be rushed to the hospital, 22 miles away.
Angelica begs Dr. Flores to help save her baby boy. The baby is dangerously quiet; it is his mother’s cries filling the small room. Dr. Flores does everything he can to stabilize the child, while his team searches for transportation.
Finally, they are able to get a vehicle to rush them over bumpy dirt roads to the hospital. It takes 45 minutes to get there.
Fortunately, the baby survives. The doctors at the hospital tell Dr. Flores that if they’d arrived a few minutes later, the boy wouldn’t have made it.
As the sun begins to rise, Dr. Flores makes his way back to the clinic. He is thankful they were able to borrow a car to transport Angelica Ruiz and her child. But he can’t help but wonder about next time…
An All Too Common Story
Stories like these are far too common at the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Clinic. Unfortunately, the clinic just doesn’t have all the resources and equipment it needs to treat the some 8,000 people a year that walk through its door.
Some patients need to be transferred to the area hospital, and so the Clinic is in desperate need of a 4-wheel drive vehicle that can be converted into an ambulance. A simple SUV that can travel over the rough roads to get patients the care that could possibly save their lives.
Locals, tourists, and surfers all visit Dr. Flores and his hardworking team at the Clinic, which provides 24/7 7 combined on-site and on-call hours every day of the week. They are treated for a wide variety of things; from a simple cut, to the birth of a child – often at no charge.
Before the Clinic opened in 2004, many mothers gave birth in their own homes, if they didn’t have time or the money to go to the far away hospital. Many lives have been saved at the clinic. Some have not. And for those, there’s that lingering, what if they could have gotten to the hospital sooner?
A Region in Need
The Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Clinic was named after the late Roberto Clemente, star baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Roberto lost his life in a plane crash while delivering supplies to earthquake-torn Nicaragua. Clemente is a national hero in the country, and Dr. Flores and his team follow in his footsteps as they work tirelessly for the people of region.
The 1,140 square foot, non-profit facility treats children, the elderly, and disabled for free. All other fees are determined by the patient’s ability to pay. But no one is ever turned away. The 41 villages surrounding Rancho Santana are full of one- or two-room shacks filled with families with several children. Men make around $5 a day farming, fishing, or doing construction. Many children don’t attend school because they can’t afford the $40 it would cost for supplies.
The clinic has helped so many of these people, but sometimes our equipment and supplies just aren’t enough. We depend on individual donations, and need help to continue to improve and save the lives of thousands of people in the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere.
That’s why I’m writing to you today.
We Need Your Help
Besides an ambulance, one of the clinic’s biggest needs right now is sufficient oxygen equipment for the many people who suffer from respiratory ailments.
Like Jose Bonilla, who has diabetes and congestive heart failure. He recently came to the clinic when he was having trouble breathing and had to be taken to the far away hospital because the clinic lacked the oxygen equipment Jose needed.
Or Luis Garcia, who suffers from severe pneumonia. He too had to be taken to the far away hospital, when he could have been treated near his home, at the clinic, if it had the equipment. Luckily both men got to the hospital in time, no small feat with the lack of an ambulance to transport them.
Medical volunteers from all over the world visit the clinic to lend a hand, and we created a volunteer training program after the style of Doctors Without Borders. But we need more capital to do more for the community. There is so much to be done in this impoverished area. Besides small administrative costs, most of the donations we receive (over 87%) go directly to maintaining the clinic and our current basic services. We are at capacity with nothing left over to expand our facilities, team of professionals, medical services, or educational programs.
To accommodate the many patients the clinic sees each year, including elderly “gringos” who live in the area, tourists, and surfers, the clinic is in desperate need of expanding. In addition to the ambulance, we need more beds and an examination room, dentistry, outreach program supplies and management, and another full time doctor. But we are without funding for these projects, so as of now we are unable to get past the design stage.
Dr. Flores, along with nurses Martha Miranda, Carlos Pena, and Margie Fincham, have helped to turn the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Clinic into a model healthcare facility for the area. And we want to continue to add to that and make it so much more.
Education and Prevention
We’re expanding beyond medical care to offer health education, English lessons, and educational supplies to the residents of the area. Prevention is the most effective health care, and we strive to provide that “missing link” so often found in other clinics of this type: simple education.
From its inception, the Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Clinic has held regular education programs, including seminars on breast self-examination, prenatal care, nutrition, how to create better sanitary conditions at home, and other preventative health care issues.
But what is probably the most important part of our heath education programs is our outreach to the youth.
Boys and girls ages 12-20 meet regularly with Nurse Martha Miranda to talk openly and honestly about issues facing young people, to promote well-being in the mind and body, and sustained health.
In addition to this, Dr. Flores visits local schools each month, passing out donated supplies of toothbrushes, books, pencils and paper to the children.
We’ve received many requests for help and sponsorship from children, their parents, and young adults at the beginning of their careers. They work hard to further their lives and education, but in many cases children and young adults are not going to school because they can’t afford it, or are quitting because they need to work to support themselves and their families. And so the need for sponsorship is great.
Be a “GodParent”
Still, at the heart of our mission is treating and preventing illness and saving lives. But as you’ve seen, our lack of resources makes it impossible to give all the care one person needs. Such is the case of Jesus Gazo. Jesus and his family live close to the clinic, where he has been lucky enough to receive vital medical attention to help his various handicaps, including lack of good nutrition, convulsions, and slow psychomotor development.
Photo taken by Katie Adams
Unfortunately, Jesus needs more help than the clinic can provide, which is why we have created El Padrino Project. El Padrino (Spanish for Godfather) Project, gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the life of one child. For just $50 a month, you can help change Jesus’ life and offer him the opportunity for a healthier future.
Your monthly donation will provide Jesus with the necessary medicine and treatments to make him stable and healthier.
…And so you can see exactly how your donation is working, you will receive regular updates directly from the Clinic and his family profiling Jesus’s progress. As always, we invite all donors to visit the clinic and to visit the child you are sponsoring right here in Nicaragua.
It’s a more personal way to get involved.
A Little Goes a Long Way…
…And is life changing. Here’s an example of what a generous donation would do…
- $250 will help expand our facilities, to create a trauma room and examination room, and help to bring the design for a new building to life.
- $500 will help to bring on another full time doctor to assist Dr. Flores, and help us to create an Outreach Program that goes beyond the immediate community into hard-to-reach rural villages.
- $1,000 will help in getting the $32,000 ambulance (4-wheel drive SUV) we so desperately need to transport patients to the local hospital in Rivas. The vehicle must be totally dependable and able to negotiate very rough dirt roads.
The Clinic cannot survive without individual donations. We are not funded by a government or grants. Fortunately, International publishing company Agora Inc. will match all donations 100% for 2008 .
Your donation gives the promise of medicine to people who otherwise could only dream of it. Medical attention to people who otherwise wouldn’t have it.
Imagine not being able to get the regular, routine medical attention you need. Imagine suffering from a chronic illness that requires medicine but not being able to get it, or even know it exists. Imagine you or a loved one not being able to give birth in a clean and safe environment. Imagine having trouble breathing and no access to oxygen. Imagine working so hard to better your life but because of where you were born it’s next to impossible.
When we stop to think think of all we have we always feel fortunate and what a great position to be in, to be able to help those in need! Because even with the economic woes our country is currently facing, it’s nothing compared to what some citizens of Nicaragua have seen their whole lives.
In the Spirit of the Season…
That’s why I’m coming to you. In hopes that in the spirit of the season you will think of this community and do what you can to help.
Since the Roberto Clemente –Santa Ana Health Clinic is recognized as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, donations are 100% tax deductable.
And as I mentioned before, every dollar you donate in 2008 will be matched by Agora Inc., doubling the effect of your generosity.
You can also give in someone else’s name as a special and unique holiday gift – we can send them a special printed gift card.
With a donation of $1,000 or more, we would like to place your name on a plaque at the Clinic. And if you donate $5,000 we’d like to thank you with two free nights at the nearby Rancho Santana Resort on the stunning Pacific coast (www.ranchosantana.com). You could visit the Clinic while you are there and see exactly how much good your donation is doing.
Your donation will have a tremendous impact on the thousands of people who visit the clinic each year. Your donation will give newborn babies a chance, like the little boy I told you about at the beginning of this letter. Your donation will give the elderly the care and relief they need to live out their lives in peace and comfort. And your donation will help everyone in between.
Your donation could be the one that saves a life…
Please click here to access the donation form. The Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Health Clinic depends on and truly appreciates your continued support!
If you would like to send a check, please Click Here to print a form.
Very Sincerely Yours,
The Roberto Clemente – Santa Ana Health Clinic Inc.
P.S. If you would like to donate we ask that you do so urgently, before December 31, 2008. That way the clinic will receive twice the benefit of your donation, thanks to Agora Inc.; 2008 matching program. They have generously agreed to match 100% of all donations this year. We will immediately send you a receipt for your tax deduction and a small holiday gift as our thank you.