Don’t Forget About the ‘Border Children’

The summer of 2014 saw a surge of unaccompanied children at the US’s southern border.  Most of these children had traveled from Central American countries like Honduras and Guatemala.  Many were fleeing violence, poverty, hunger. Don’t forget about them.  We haven’t.

Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

 

Many of the children who came across the border remain in facilities across the US as they await disposition of their individual cases.  On their own, or sent by families, they arrived seeking connections with families already in the states, all seeking something better.  The increased number of children taxed the border control systems, forcing many into makeshift holding facilities and then into shelters across the country. In August we shipped hundreds of blankets and hygiene kits to children being temporarily housed in shelters in six states.

Recently we sent another large shipment, via our global partner FedEx, to a number of shelters that will begin housing children in February 2015 as they await their immigration hearings.  The kids that will be housed in these shelters range in age from 7-17 and most are in their early teens.

supplies shelved

Working with the Urban Strategies/National Latino Evangelical Coalition we delivered medical supplies to nine shelters in five states.  We learned that the greatest needs are for wound care, chicken pox treatment and pain relief.  Thanks to the partnerships we’ve developed with medical supply and pharmaceutical donors we’ve been able to meet the needs of the shelters and the care of the children.
Examples of the supplies we shipped:  sunscreen, tape, gauze, OTC meds from Johnson & Johnson; Alcohol swabs from BD; thermometers and covers from Welch Allyn; and ointment from Calmoseptine.

supplies laid outHeart to Heart International will continue to help as many of these shelters as we can.  You can help us do this.

Support our efforts to deliver care to these children.  Help us help them.

Donate to meet the greatest need

 

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supplies arrive

sorting suppliesmore sortingtwo by two w supplies

 

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Heart to Heart Readies Aid for Typhoon Hagupit Relief

Super Typhoon Hagupit (named Ruby in the Philippines) is poised to slam into the Philippines leaving a path of destruction and affecting the lives of millions in its path.

Hagupit Ruby track 5dec14

Many of the thousands of people we helped a year ago will be impacted by this new powerful storm.

Exactly one year ago, Heart to Heart International led teams of medical volunteers to the Philippines to provide aid and comfort for thousands of people affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.  Heart to Heart also shipped nearly 50 tons of relief supplies, food and medical aid to help those in need, in our largest airlift in six years.

We are following the progress of Hagupit/Ruby very closely, and are already in contact with trusted partners in the Philippines, preparing to provide whatever aid we can in the aftermath of Hagupit/Ruby.

Keep us prepared and ready to send aid.

help us respond. Donate.

 

 

VIDEO: Working Together to Fight Ebola

A new video gives a glimpse into the early days of Heart to Heart International’s Operation Ebola in Liberia and showcases the importance of partnership to combat the Ebola epidemic.

For many weeks, Heart to Heart International CEO Jim Mitchum has been in Liberia overseeing the building of the organizational infrastructure needed to support the opening of an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU).   Along with Country Director Julie Hefner and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rene Vega, our team in Liberia has been putting all the pieces into place, hiring staff, and coordinating with multiple aid agencies as part of the global response to the epidemic.

Watch the video to learn the reasons why HHI has taken on the responsibility of running an ETU.  Hear from our new Liberian staff members about their desire to bring healthcare to their people and why it’s so important that HHI has come to help.  And learn how we’re working in partnership with other NGOs, like the International Medical Corps, to tackle this continuing humanitarian crisis.

 

Video by: Blake Nelson

 

Dispatch from Liberia: Waking up in Ebola Land

Morning breaks muggy and warm with broken clouds signaling that the rainy season is slowly giving way to its dry season doppelgänger. Roosters crow incessantly below my second-story apartment bedroom window, ridiculing anyone who wants a few minutes of extra sleep on a Saturday morning. Life in Monrovia, Liberia is waking up to a new day in Ebola Land.

Dr. Vega in Bong Co, Liberia

HHI Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rene Vega visiting the IMC Ebola Treatment Unit in Bong County, Liberia.

 

It’s an important day for us as Dr. Rene Vega, our chief medical officer, has returned from a week of Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) training with one of our NGO partners, the International Medical Corps, at their Bong county site.  Dr. Vega will be taking a week break from the ETU and working with us in our Monrovia office. He will then return to Bong to gain even more experience in preparation of the opening of our own ETU in a few short weeks in Nimba county, eight hours of rough road from here.

Suiting up in PPE in Bong

International Medical Corps workers help a colleague suit up in PPE, personal protective equipment, inside the ETU in Bong County, Liberia.

 

We are looking forward to getting Rene’s input on the design of the ETU we will be operating. Nothing beats experience when it comes to improving the way the unit will be designed and built. Little details like how patients are brought into the ETU or even the width of a patient shower stall can be helpful in preventing unnecessary exposures and risks. Doctors with many years of training in human anatomy are suddenly being asked to become experts in Ebola treatment unit layouts.

Dr. Vega w IMC program officer

HHI Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rene Vega (left), meets with IMC program director at ETU in Bong County, Liberia.

 

Reports of the number of patients coming to existing ETU’s in Liberia are down suggesting to some that the epidemic may be waning. That is not what the experts believe, nor even the man-on-the-street in Monrovia.  Instead, it is widely thought that people have remained in their homes when showing signs of Ebola rather than heading for an ETU. They naturally fear isolation from their loved ones and the seemingly inhuman nature of being treated by people in body suits where only the medical worker’s eyes are visible, and that through goggles. Fear is palpable.

Staying at home has terrible implications for this disease since home caregivers, almost always members of the patients’ family, usually become the next victims. And so the disease continues, as yet unconfined.  More ETU’s will be built in both the cities and the countryside as this impoverished country seeks to eradicate a virus that is causing panic and fear to spread around the world.

-Jim

 

A White House Invitation

Due to our involvement in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, HHI was invited to attend an event at the White House with the President of the United States on Wednesday, October 29th.

After meeting with advisors and healthcare workers involved in the Ebola fight, President Barack Obama delivered remarks in the East Room of the White House praising those Americans who are risking their lives by going to the Ebola affected areas in West Africa to stop the spread of the virus.

“We need to call them what they are, which is American heroes,” Obama said. “They deserve our gratitude and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Watch the President’s remarks:

 

Following the event, HHI joined with a handful of other NGOs to discuss the coordinated Ebola operations on the ground in Liberia, meeting with senior administration officials including HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain, and Gayle Smith, Senior Director National Security Council.

Learn more about our Operation Ebola.

 

 

A Clinic That Ebola Closed

The Life Care Health Clinic is just one clinic in the Liberian countryside, but its story is shared by so many across this country.  It’s a story of frustration, incapacity and loss of knowing what could possibly be done next.

Life Care Health Clinic

The clinic is located in the interestingly named Soul Clinic community of Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, Liberia.  Our team – myself, Gary, Sue, Dan – along with James, our guide, came to learn more about how health providers are faring in this time of Ebola, and to provide some supplies we had brought with us. We had an opportunity to sit and talk with the small clinic staff and listened mostly to Mr. Tia, the clinic administrator, as he talked about his clinic, the community and what they’ve had to deal with.

This tiny clinic has a two-bed male ward, two-bed female ward, a delivery room, a pharmacy, and it serves a community of about 4,000 people.  When Ebola came into their community they were unprepared for the onslaught of patients, and woefully under-supplied and under-staffed.

They had no way to protect themselves from the Ebola virus, nor did they have a way to determine who actually has Ebola or who has something else like a bad case of malaria or cholera.  At first they tried to just turn away those that had symptoms, but it quickly became clear that it was hard to tell who was infected with Ebola and who wasn’t.  So the difficult decision was made that they simply must close the clinic.

Gary & Sue at Soul Clinic

Sue & Gary with Life Care Health Clinic staff in Liberia

 

Mr. Tia told us that out of 50 deaths in the past few months, maybe 20 to 30 are from Ebola and that perhaps the rest could have been prevented with regular medical care, but there is no way for people to get treated now.  Beyond Ebola, his biggest concern is people dying of malaria, which is so much more common than Ebola.

We listened, sitting on the porch of the clinic as the African rains fell, and thanked Mr. Tia and his staff for sharing their stories and concerns.  Before we departed, we left one of our Ready Relief Boxes full of medical supplies, thermometers, disposable stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs.

We wanted to do more.  As we drove away we hoped that soon we will.

 

Advance Team in Liberia on Front Lines of Ebola Fight

The HHI Advance Team arrived in Liberia and is already hard at work – meeting with partners, touring facilities and getting a lay of the land – prepping the way for the deployment of volunteer medical teams to provide care for the people of Liberia.

Advance Team & James

The team is being assisted by James Williams (striped shirt in photo above), the acting director of Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia, a Liberian non-profit that develops community-based healthcare programs.  James is helping to serve as a guide for our Advance Team.  A great connection!

Team member Sue Mangicaro, RN, from HHI’s corporate partner Welch Allyn, reports they heard both good and bad news when they met with representatives of Medical Teams International.  The good: MTI is in the process of training community healthcare workers on prevention and treatment of Ebola, however the bad is that they have had to pull their staff out of clinics because of the inherent risks involved in triage and contracting the disease.  The real fear of Ebola is causing the healthcare system to collapse, as HHI CEO Jim Mitchum recently discussed in an op-ed.

MTI clinic closed

A clinic closed in Monrovia, Liberia due to the Ebola outbreak.

 

handwashing station

Pictured above is one of many handwashing stations the team has come across in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia.  They reported the smell of bleach hangs in the air, a comforting aroma, as bleach is used to kill the Ebola virus on surfaces, protective equipment and on skin.

Look for more updates from the Advance Team in Liberia soon!

 

Donate now to sustain OPERATION EBOLA and help save lives in West Africa.

Donate Now!

 

 

 

 

 

Advance Team Departs for Liberia in Fight Against Ebola

Three members of Heart to Heart International’s Advance Team left from Kansas City International airport Sunday, September 21, 2014, and will be joined by a 4th member in New York before flying to Liberia by way of Morocco.

IMG_0078

It’ll be a long journey to get to Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia as air carriers have been restricting or cancelling flights to the country due to the Ebola Outbreak.  The team is also loaded down with supplies.  They’re carrying six extra-large bags full of medicine and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the team’s use in the Ebola hot zone.

Watch local Kansas City news coverage of Advance Team departure

 

Advance Team

Three of four Advance Team members (l to r): Dr. Gary Morsch, Julie Hefner, Dan Neal

 

The team’s goal is to pave the way for HHI to deploy teams of volunteer doctors and nurses in the coming weeks and months into West Africa.  Besides the dire need for medical and protective supplies to fight the virus and treat Ebola patients, there is a desperate need to have more medical providers, nurses and health workers on the ground to provide primary care and more.

Advance Team members:

Dr. Gary Morsch, Founder, HHI
Dan Neal, Director of Global Operations, HHI
Julie Hefner, International Liaison Officer, HHI
Sue Mangicaro, RN – Clinical Affairs Director, Welch Allyn

The HHI Advance Team will be in Liberia for a little more than a week working with partners on the ground like the International Medical Corps, the World Health Organization (WHO) and local government officials to coordinate a broader response, and to assess medical supply needs and determine ways to meet and expand the number of shipments.

See emergency Ebola relief supplies leave HHI’s Global Distribution Center

Because of the Ebola epidemic the limited healthcare system in the affected countries is collapsing creating a Crisis within the Crisis.  This is where Heart to Heart International can do a lot of good, by drawing on the experience and bravery of our medical volunteers to help provide this care.

Donate now to sustain OPERATION EBOLA and help save lives in West Africa.

Donate Now!

Haiti Medical Team Delivers Baby on the Side of a Road

IT’S A GIRL!

One of Heart to Heart International’s Haitian Medical Teams helped a woman deliver a baby girl this week alongside a rural road in southeast Haiti.

Dr. Kethia Lamour delivers a petite fille – a little girl!

Here’s how it happened:  Our Southeast Medical Team, along with some volunteer nurses from Pennsylvania, was working in our clinic in Cascade Pichon –  a small, remote village found at the end of a road beneath towering mountains.  Word came that a pregnant woman was just up the road and about to deliver.  The mother-to-be had been walking to the Heart to Heart Clinic seeking help at the only medical facility in the region – but the baby was ready to come. Now.

Baby on the way!

Baby on the way!

Our team rushed up the road, and while family and other neighbors gathered around, helped the woman deliver a healthy petite fille, a little girl, right then and there.

Swaddling the brand new babe...

Swaddling the brand new babe…

All went well, and mother and child went to the clinic to rest and get cleaned up.  It’s a good thing our folks were there as complications can always arise, especially in such a remote area.  Great job by our Haitian Medical Team and by our volunteers!

The proud volunteer nurse!

Dana, the proud volunteer nurse!

These are the Heart to Heart staff & volunteers who helped deliver the baby girl in Cascade Pichon:

HHI’s Haitian Med Team – Southeast
Dr. Kethia Lamour
Nurse Elisabeth Lindor
Nurse Nathalie Pierre
Rodney Numa

HHI Volunteers
Nurse Dana Darnell – Downingtown, PA
Nurse Dianne Finnegan – Allentown, PA

HHI’s Haitian Medical Teams

HHI has three med teams comprised of Haitian medical professionals, who travel on a weekly circuit to all of our 14 clinics in the country.  The teams are made up of a doctor, a nurse, another nurse or a pharmacist, and a clinic/team coordinator.  While they work on a rotation, HHI brings in volunteers from the US and other countries to augment the team.  We’re always recruiting medical volunteers to work with us in Haiti.  Join us!

 

Ebola Relief Aid Ships to Liberia

The first shipment of OPERATION EBOLA relief aid left Heart to Heart International’s Global Distribution Center today, September 8th, 2014.

Eighteen pallets of medical aid and supplies were loaded into a FedEx truck bound for Liberia, to be used by front line health workers in the fight against the Ebola Epidemic.  This first shipment contained massive quantities of supplies desperately needed in the field. Watch the video…

Wrapped up and on the way are thousands of needles and syringes courtesy of BD, one of HHI’s long time corporate partners.  Also in the shipment – thousands of exam gloves and thousands of face masks.  All items that health workers need, items that are running low or have run out in the fight to stop the spread of Ebola.

Help us ship more aid!  Donate now to sustain OPERATION EBOLA and help save lives in West Africa.

Donate Now!