The CDCA and its Nueva Vida Clinic most specifically are working to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. The staff are daily monitoring the situation in communities and taking appropriate action in coordination with local Nicaraguan authorities. This page is being updated regularly as to how the staff here are responding, with new information, and how people can help. Look at:
Please help! There is an immediate need for:
- $600 for infrared thermometers to monitor for fevers at the Clinic & for our volunteer health promoters (the ones purchased for the clinic broke immediately!)
- $250 for reusable cloth masks and hand-made face shields to slow contamination
- $5 each for hand washing stations at the Clinic –more can be put in schools and other public areas as funding comes in
- $450 cleaning supplies for the Clinic (ongoing monthly)
- $60 printed COVID-19 information material for handing out in daily talks at the Clinic
To donate online, designate for Coronavirus Response at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/jhc-cdca
After keeping the Nueva Vida Clinic closed for a month, the CDCA is again officially open, with lots of safety protocols in place. To catch you up… here are the two latest blogs on the subject:
In addition to the CDCA, the country of Nicaragua as a whole is trying to deal with COVID-19 as a long-term reality. The annual 19 de Julio holiday, where hundreds of thousands would normally gather in Managua’s main Plaza, was celebrated instead in homes, with in-car parades, virtual concerts, etc. The army, available to help, is rotating around between cities, spraying down public places overnight. This link was posted last week, where this disinfecting happen to include the Ciudad Sandino market, police station, and local hospital, among other places. And after the usual summer break in classes, public schools are reopening on a limited basis… one grade level each day of the week, socially distanced, with assignments to complete at home in between, and publicly televised classes (also on radio) for those without internet access. Also, current travel regulations include a negative COVID-19 test result for travelers coming into Nicaragua.
All the continuing hard work means that today’s official COVID-19 numbers looked like this with the number of active cases slowly decreasing throughout July:
During June the CDCA held three Zoom Live Event presentations, geared especially towards former volunteers, but available for everybody. Here’s the link… please feel free to share. And the news of today is… the Nueva Vida Clinic will be reopening and the office and other projects, tomorrow, 1 July, as many COVID-19 protocols are put into place focused on keeping staff and patients safe. Those self-isolating in the house will continue to work from isolation. The Zoom Event video, with presentation and the three Q&A sessions, can be viewed here:
Over the past several weeks, COVID-19 cases have been increasing steadily, but there are finally some hopeful signs. These graphs reflect the overall confirmed cases, and the reported new cases weekly. Staff will re-evaluate whether or not to reopen both the office and the Nueva Vida Clinic on July 1, but are encouraged. How to reopen, whenever that time comes, and how to pay for the costs that need to be incurred to keep all staff and others safe, as well as what systems we need to put into place… these will be the new priorities.
As of today the 26th of May, according to the Ministry of Health, Nicaragua has had 885 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 35 deaths and 370 recovered cases, which is higher than what John Hopkins is reporting. Nicaragua now has community transmission and though those are the confirmed cases, the odds are that there are many, many more. The Nicaraguan government predicts that the next three weeks will be the peak.1
All the Nueva Vida Clinic’s doctors are out sick with fevers and respiratory issues. The clinic’s general physician and the pediatrician2 have confirmed COVID-19 cases. The general physician has lost 30 pounds and both are having difficulties breathing. The clinic’s radiologist (and main physician) is sick but it is unknown as to whether or not he has been tested.
Also, among the clinic staff, both cleaners, Xiomara and Luz Marina, and the intern health promoter, Emir, are out sick. The paid nurse, Isamar, and the intern nurse, Reyna, are so far all right. The level of anxiety is high among Jubilee House Community members and the rest of the staff, not only about all of them, especially, but also concern for the two other clinic staff members who are on permanent leave: Jessenia and Petronila; both are at high risk of death if they get the virus.
Although the nurses and doctors have asked the clinic patients to go to the government run clinics to get tested, few have done so. Two of the 140 chronic care patients3 have died from unknown causes in the last week. Respiratory issues are spreading through the poverty-stricken communities like wild fire. All the clinic staff members have been very afraid.
As a result of all of the above, the CDCA’s executive staff ordered all staff to shelter at home for the next three weeks starting today. The office staff are working from home, as possible, on financial reports, fundraising, communications, public relations, and how to educate those in the north about what is happening here. After June 15th, the shelter at home order will be reevaluated…meanwhile services are closed with one exception…
This Thursday, two of the pharmacy staff, Josefa4 and Danelia, will drop-off June’s monthly medicines outside each of the chronic care patients’ homes. Rogelio, construction guru and all-round-wizard, will drive them around the Nueva Vida community and the rural communities in the CDCA’s truck. All the CDCA’s staff feel strong obligations to the patients, especially the chronic care patients who are at the most risk of death from COVID-19.
Thinking of ways to keep the staff safe and continue to work in some areas has proved impossible. The best place for them is to shelter at home. All the protective gear that was made or bought was obviously not working well enough. Besides protecting the staff, no one wants to infect the clinic patients or others people working with the staff.
All the staff members are dedicated to this work. Most are making a living wage, if they live a simple lifestyle which they do; but most, also, support extended family, which means many of our staff live in poverty. Their biggest concern has been would they get their full salaries?
The CDCA is committed to paying the staff’s full salaries during these uncertain times and while they are sheltering at home. The CDCA has no independent funding; it is dependent solely on donations. In other words, the CDCA depends on people like you to meet the budget. With less work the electricity bill will be lower, as will all other bills. But the staff still need their wages as well as their benefits. The clinic also needs funds to buy medicines for the chronic care patients, about $4,000 a month.
If you are able and willing to help, please do. Needs are high across the world and every little bit that is given to the CDCA will be used to its maximum.
1 The government release a 75-page document yesterday on its response to COVID-19.
2 Both of these doctors also work for the Ministry of Health, so they could have picked up the virus there and brought it to the Nueva Vida clinic.
3 Chronic care patients mostly have diabetes and hypertension, though some have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s, HIV, and thyroid conditions.
4 Also, the Clinic Administrator
Zoom Event: Live From Nicaragua – Fighting COVID-19 Together
Recording of the event available here:
In the past week, the Nueva Vida Clinic has seen more patients whom the staff suspect have COVID-19. One patient who came to the gate was quite ill and was sent directly to the hospital, but the others had relatively mild symptoms. The Clinic is instituting a more stringent protocol to protect both staff and patients, as well as reporting suspected cases to the Ministry of Health. MINSA is providing statistical updates weekly, which are reflected in the map link below. For an update on the CDCA’s clinic, here is today’s blog: http://jhc-cdca.blogspot.com/2020/05/covid-19-is-here.html
Responding to international misinformation… the map below continues to show current statistics, thanks to John Hopkins University. And MINSA’s approach to COVID-19 in Nicaragua is described in our blog for today:
NYTimes and John Hopkins University are both keeping track of confirmed COVID-19 cases, and are reporting the same information. As of this AM, Nicaragua has had 10 confirmed cases: 2 still active, 6 recovered, and 2 deaths. This link is courtesy of John Hopkins University. Drag the map to center, and then click on the country to get the latest statistics (the map will continue to update daily):
For an update as of today, please read here:
Nicaragua has had 5 confirmed cases of the virus… including one death (a patient with HIV and diabetes). The CDCA is acting quickly even without designated funds, trusting that supporters like you will respond to this call for emergency funding.
The health clinic and dental clinic are staying open. The clinic staff are not equipped to treat COVID-19, so will continue to treat our regular patients, to keep them from having to go to the busy public clinics. Patients who arrive with a fever are being immediately redirected to a public health MINSA facility.
How do the staff and patients practice social distancing? By:
- Only providing critical dental care now, no preventive care to keep contagions down;
- Temporarily suspending all our support groups for the next few weeks;
- Having chronic care patients (mostly with diabetes, hypertension, and elderly) send a young member of their family, if possible, to get their monthly medications;
- Having the therapist still come to care for emotionally traumatized children and women but keeping them apart as much as possible;
- Teaching all patients that come to the clinic about hand washing, not touching one’s face, and social distancing… very hard when 10 people live in tiny homes, public schools are open, people use buses to get to and from work, and most work in the informal sector such as selling in markets that are tightly packed.
To protect Nueva Vida Clinic staff & patients and slow the spread of the virus, the CDCA has purchased, and the maintenance staff have set up:
- Hand washing stations at all entrances to the clinic
- Marked spacing on the ground to spread out patients waiting in line
- Patients are seated outside and inside 1 meter apart
- Marking the floors to indicate seating and asking people to put their hands in their pockets
- Getting gowns for all medical providers to leave at the clinic for laundering
- Purchasing cloth masks to slow the spread as much as possible
- Collecting equipment to make home-made face shields
- Providing for the Dental staff surgical masks, caps, gloves and eye protection and soon gowns as well.
The paid health promoter and clinic administrator made informational leaflets and all patients that come to the clinic are taught about hand washing, not touching one’s face, how to set up a hand disinfecting station, and social distancing … again this is very hard when 10 people live in tiny homes, public schools are open, buses are used to get to/from work, and most work in the informal sector (such as selling in markets that are tightly packed).
Other staff are keeping a 6’ distance from one another. Besides work at the Nueva Vida Clinic, the CDCA’s construction staff are continuing work on the third building at the Clinic (Education & X-ray areas) while staying away from patients, and have built a shaded area for the Clinic’s entry where patient entry is monitored. They have also painted the sidewalk with spacing indicators for those waiting in line.
Other CDCA staff are helping by:
- Decontaminating everything coming into the office, clinic, and other areas on the CDCA’s property.
- Cancelling international speaking/fundraising trips to not encourage groups to gather.
- Limiting urgent shopping and essential errands
- Maintaining a 3-week quarantine for those returning from the U.S.
The organic agriculture cooperative’s management is remaining open getting crops processed and shipped… peanuts were held up due to the agriculture office in Honduras being closed (Nicaragua does not have deep port access to the Atlantic Ocean). The sesame processing plant is staying open… they have a clean room for the finishing of the processing with masks, lab coats, hair caps, and a place to wash hands.
Casa Ben Linder, the hospitality house and a CDCA project, is not hosting events for the time being.
Your help is needed to continue to respond as the situation develops.
To donate online, designate for Coronavirus Response at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/jhc-cdca