Wow! Your donation helped us surpass our goal of $35,000!
Because of your wonderful support awesome progress has been made in bringing medical care to the remote communities of the Bocas del Toro archipelago. You, our wonderful and generous supporters, continue to truly make a difference!
Your commitment to a permanent presence in Panama ensures continuous follow up care, on-going community improvement projects, and health education year round in the desperately isolated communities we serve. We now have hosted an incredible number of volunteers from all over the world and our goal to establish a sustainable volunteer effort is within reach. Universities from Yale to UC Irvine and USC, from Australia to Britain, have partnered with us on projects involving ultrasound, orthopedics and cultural archiving of traditional indigenous medical botany.
One case you really made a difference for is a young 13 year-old girl who we found pregnant with a severely impaired and undeliverable baby. Because we have our ultrasound equipment and our team of dedicated volunteers, and the network we have established in Panama, she was provided with the vital care that she so desperately needed.
A displaced community forced to live on top of a mangrove swamp had a high incidence of infant mortality and illness. Not only did our volunteers treat the medical problems, they built walkways above the swamp and tied the water supply pipes underneath the walkways, up out of the sewage-y water. It's amazing how much healthier this community has become.
When we first were visiting La Sabana.in the high jungle mountains.... the first medical team to ever visit there...the infant mortality was 73%. Today it is 13%. Still too high, but give us a little more time! :-)
We have the very good luck to have Dr. Dan often join us on our clinics. He is a veterinarian, so we truly can help the "whole family"...everything from puppies to sloths. We can worm everyone.... humans and animals.... and create a much healthier outcome for a whole community. And with your generous donations this can be a lasting effect.
This Global Giving Project may be complete, but our work is far from done. We have created a new Global Giving project pageto help support our mission to provide quality sustainable health care to the Bocas del Toro Region of Panama. If you have a recurring donation to our completed project, Thank You! That donation is automatically being moved to our new project page.
Additionally, we're kicking off our new project page with this month's Bonus Day. On July 16th, all donations made starting at 9 am EDT will be matched at 50%! Help us start this new campaign right! Follow us on Facebook on July 16th to see how we're doing.
So far 2014 has been one for the Floating Doctors record books.
In February, we jumped head first into the year with a joint clinic with Mending Kids International, providing pediatric orthopedic surgeries for some of our most vulnerable patients in the archipelago.
In March, we had a record number of volunteers. So many that for the first time ever we ran two simultaneous multi-day clinics, one in Playa Verde and one in Bahia Azul.
That same week, thanks in large part to you, our Global Giving supporters, we opened our first Remote Outpost! On a rainy March day the entire Floating Doctors team in Panama gathered at one of our most remote communities, Playa Verde for the official opening ceremony.
That morning our 40+ volunteers were released on the clinic for finishing touches: sanding, painting, clearing brush, digging drainage ditches, building basic stools and tables, etc. After a thorough painting and scrubbing the town mayor, Ito, called the community for the opening ceremony. An emotional ceremony featuring the beloved Peace Corps worker Eta, the mayor, other town leaders, the construction crew and Dr. Ben spoke about gratitude and the communal hopes for the future of the clinic. This was followed by the required official photos and a big community feast. After that is was back to work providing health care and breaking in our brand new clinic.
Opening this clinic was an important step for us. So often when we are in a community we see a real acute emergency that needs immediate attention: a machete wound, a high fever, a childbirth going bad very quickly, etc. Each time we are grateful we were there to help that person when they needed it most. But each time we leave we know that the next person not be so lucky. There are no doctors, no drug stores, no emergency rooms or urgent care clinics in these communities. Help is a long, expensive trip away.
By setting up this remote clinic we hope to be the help that the next person needs.
Floating Doctors has much to be grateful for in 2013. We had over 180 volunteers from all over the world sharing their time and skills and really making a difference to over 4,500 patients.
Among our beloved patients helped by our volunteers and donors was Gustivino whose heart defect and tuberculosis were of great concern to his family. After keeping him alive for two years from one aspiration pneumonia after another, Rolando's cleft palate was finally able to be repaired. Now, he has gained weight, he is growing and his chubby cheeks around his sweet smile fill our hearts. We were able to add Norteño to our list of isolated villages served and make our way to Rio Cana and Escudo.
We gratefully accepted a large grant from the Lawrence Foundation, which includes 100 acres of pristine jungle. Volunteers and scientists will be studying the medicinal flora. The plans for the first permanent clinic have been finalized and work has begun on the floating medical facility which will be located and permanently staffed out on the archipelago. Our partnership with Sermo allowed us to consult with doctors and specialists from all over the world in real time from our remote patient outposts. Floating Doctors has also been assisting Noah Haas in developing and installing solar charging station in the villages we serve so internet can be brought to our patient’s populations. And...we have had the good fortune to partner up with Dr. Dan, our veterinarian friend who treats the village animal populations as we treat the humans.
There is so much to do in 2014. So much to look forward to.
Thank you, Beautiful Donors.....you keep us afloat and put the wind in our sails. Happy New Year!!!!
We were visited and partnered by Sermo, the largest online community, exclusive to physicians. With over 200,000 licensed physicians, Sermo is facilitating collaboration in medicine like never before. The Rio Cana community was visited for the first time. To get there the volunteers traveled 6 hours through the archipelago by panga, then navigated up over a reef at the mouth of the river and up the river to the community. Several complicated cases were presented by satellite to Sermo and consults appeared from all over the network. This cutting edge use of social media by Sermo and Floating Doctors was noted by Unicef.
One woman on the outskirts of Rio Cana delivered a baby, and then began to bleed out. Volunteers bundled her into a panga with the newborn and crossed the archipelago by flashlight and moonlight. They made it to the mainland hospital ...mother and child doing well! This on the very night the Lawrence Family Foundation was awarding Floating Doctors a grant for the first, permanent clinic.
Noah Haas is installing solar power stations in remote villages to bring internet to these remote areas which will greatly enhance the ability of Floating Doctors to connect these isolated peoples with the world's online medical community.
Volunteers continue to collect cultural history of the Ngobe.
The electronic medical record system, unique to the kind of work Floating Doctors does, is nearly finished and will be another contribution to the international medical relief community.
One happy personal note:
Karine Tchakerian will be joining Floating Doctors permanently as Mrs. LaBrot!!
Karine earned her Masters in Nursing Science from UCLA, graduating this last June. Dr. Ben and Karine were married Oct. 5. Welcome aboard, Karine!
This summer has brought a large amount of volunteer support to the Floating Doctors and the communities that we serve. Monthly we have been hosting over 29 volunteers that include doctors, nurses, students, and visiting specialized groups. We have been visiting multiple communities daily by distributing our volunteers all over the archipelago and coastal mainland and have been able to see hundreds of patients each month!To continue and further advance our health education proram we were happy to collaborate with a group of medical students from the University of California Irvine (UCI) throughout June and July. The nine UCI students received training in pregnancy ultrasound techniques through-out their school year in preparation for this project. They came to Panama with two objectives. The first was to find incidence of placenta previa and breech births. The second was to teach the parteras, the traditional midwives within the communities, how to find these conditions. The group facilitated clinics and trainings with the goal of preventing complicated births, which are often life threatening in these rural villages. When the group entered a community, they recruited all of the pregnant women to receive an ultrasound. The students worked side by side with the parteras to perform the examinations. After a multi-day clinic, one student reflected on her experience.“There was one lady who had not felt her baby move for a few weeks. She was very worried there was something wrong with the baby. It was very rewarding to listen to the fetal heart with the ultrasound and see that everything was fine. She was relieved.”This was just one of many examples that showed the importance and value of performing the ultrasounds in these rural villages. In another instance, a baby could not be detected. The overseeing doctor confirmed that there was no baby, but rather a molar pregnancy. This is a condition where the placenta overgrows and can be cancerous. As a result of the ultrasound findings, the doctor sent the patient for further evaluation at the nearest hospital. Not only were the UCI students using the ultrasound machines to identify possible complications, but more importantly, they were teaching the local parteras how to use them. By combining traditional knowledge with modern day technology, the project introduced a sustainable way of identifying easily preventable conditions that would otherwise be fatal in these rural areas.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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