HOPE works in more than 35 countries worldwide. Please enjoy our blog as we document the successes and challenges of our work to provide Health Opportunities for People Everywhere.
Two weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the storm is still having a serious impact on the health and well-being of the people of Texas. This is especially true for those individuals and families who remain displaced and face an uncertain future. And even more so for those who have limited or no access to proper medicines and health services.
After initially supporting rescue and recovery efforts with our partners on the ground, we expanded our response by deploying our deeply experienced disaster response team to coordinate with local officials and quickly and accurately assess the health services needed for victims of the storm.
Your Support at Work
Now, Project HOPE’s medical teams are on the front line bringing crucially needed care and comfort amid the crisis. More than a dozen volunteers including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists and mental health professionals are operating in the Houston area providing a range of services to hundreds of patients as the region struggles to get back on its feet. This support has also helped alleviate the burden on local health care professionals, many of whom worked punishing hours after the hurricane hit, some without knowing how their own homes and families had fared.
HOPE is providing a full spectrum of medical care at clinics in Katy and Tomball in partnership with Heart to Heart International as well as at the San Jose Clinic. This includes administering tetanus immunizations to protect people as they clear out damaged and flooded homes and have to contend with mold, water contamination and a compromised sanitation system. To help prevent the spread of disease, HOPE has also delivered 500 hygiene kits with an additional 500 kits are on the way.
HOPE Meeting a Range of Needs
There is a range of unique medical conditions and needs related to the hurricane. Some patients are presenting with chronic conditions, including rashes that are the result of wading in contaminated floodwater and our teams are also encountering some people who need psychosocial support because of the trauma of living through such a frightening national disaster.
"We’re seeing patients that have medical problems related to the storm but we’re predominantly seeing patients that need help with their chronic medical problems whether they’ve had a flare of those problems or can’t access their doctor for medication refills,” said HOPE medical volunteer, Dr. Carolyn Apple, an emergency and internal medicine physician.
"We’re talking about people who have run out or are about to run out of medicines for their blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, or some chronic respiratory disease such as asthma."
One of the most crucial services being provided by HOPE’s team is counseling for shocked citizens who have seen their homes and lives devastated by the storm and the floods that consumed vast tracts of southern Texas. Dr. Nancy Miller (pictured right) specializes in post-disaster mental health services and helps children and families address the emotional distress that many face in the wake of such great loss. And HOPE nurse practitioner Carma Erickson-Hurt said the needs are in many cases psychological and emotional.
“We’re doing a lot more than just giving a tetanus shot. Each patient has an emotional story to share and we’re (here) to listen and support those patients and refer them, if necessary, to a mental health professional here at the clinic who is experienced in crisis situations and can help with some of these issues,” she said.
Our Work is Far From Complete
The impact of our team’s work is not in doubt. It’s written across the faces of people who badly need our help to help themselves.
"I have received more hugs in the last week than I have received in the last year and some of that is sharing emotional experiences and hearing some stories,” said Dr. Apple.
As Project HOPE continues to widen its response to Hurricane Harvey, we are also acutely aware of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that has already battered parts of the Caribbean and could hit the continental U.S. this weekend. Thank you for your continued support as we monitor the impact of these storms and continue to respond where the need is greatest.
Carma is a clinical nurse specialist and member of the HOPE medical team in Katy, Texas, providing health services to people impacted by Harvey. Carma has been administering tetanus immunizations in a mobile clinic as part HOPE's partnership with Heart to Heart International.
The very first day that I was here, a dad came into the clinic. He was 25 or 30 years old and he brought his five-year-old daughter. He told me how he had left his house as the waters were rising and when he started walking out of the house, he had his daughter clinging to him and the water was reaching his chest. He was petrified. I asked if he could swim and he said “no.” He got choked up.
He got so, so scared, walking in the water and not knowing if it was going to get deeper.
And there are a lot of snakes down here in Texas that might have been swimming around him. He was petrified of snakes. He also said his daughter is traumatized because during the floods, she looked over and saw parts of her school under water -- and she had just started kindergarten. So we were able to listen to him and refer him to a counselor in the clinic and the next day he brought his daughter back to see a counselor. We were able to initiate care that he and his daughter needed. I will always remember him.
We’ve seen over a hundred patients just in the last few days. As we give each patient a tetanus shot, we talk to them and listen to their story. We’re seeing people who are going back into their homes for the first time since the floods started receding. They’re worried about injuries, cuts, and bacteria.
We’re also seeing a lot of teachers who are taking time off to serve the community and help people clean their homes. We’ve also seen quite a few police officers who have been deployed here from other parts of Texas. We’re also offering mental health services and educating people about how to care for wounds.
I’ve been volunteering for Project HOPE for 10 years all over the world, but this mission has a different meaning for me because it’s a disaster here at home in the United States. I have been so impressed by the community response which has been so welcoming. People openly show their gratitude for the health services we’re providing and we feel really embraced by the community and that makes a huge difference.
More than a dozen HOPE medical volunteers are on the ground in Texas providing health services to victims of Hurricane Harvey. HOPE’s team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists and mental health professionals are providing a range of health services around the Houston area.
Some care is as simple as providing critical tetanus shots to protect people as they prepare to go back to their flood-damaged homes.
HOPE’s team is also providing much-needed psychosocial support from experts experienced in disaster situations.
Project HOPE has also delivered 500 hygiene kits for people impacted by Harvey and an additional 500 kits are on the way.
As Project HOPE continues to widen its response to the health care consequences of Hurricane Harvey, we are also tracking Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that has already battered parts of the Caribbean and could hit the continental U.S. this weekend. Thank you for your continued support as we monitor the health impact of these storms and continue to respond where the need is greatest.
Pfizer Global Health Fellow volunteers with Project HOPE in India
Cathy Dunwody volunteered with Project HOPE in India for three months as a Pfizer Global Health Fellow (GHF). During her Fellowship, Cathy partnered with Project HOPE SEA (South East Asia) colleagues to develop an enhanced health program communication strategy and corresponding tools. The GHF Program is Pfizer’s signature international corporate volunteer initiative that places Pfizer colleagues on short-term assignments with leading international development organizations in underserved communities around the world. Below are Cathy’s thoughts upon completion of her official assignment with Project HOPE.
I have been passionate about volunteer work for many years and wanted to apply my extensive Pfizer experiences and acquired skills to one of my core tenets – To those whom much is given, much is expected. Given my entire career has been in an allied health care industry, I wanted to combine my passion with my professional acumen.
Previously I have engaged in shorter term hands-on, community-focused opportunities across the United States, in Guatemala and in Mexico, and these have been some of my most important and rewarding experiences of my life. Alas, I wanted to invest more of me … to invest deeper in a volunteering experience. Participating in the Global Health Fellows program allowed me to volunteer over a longer period of time in an international setting with a premier NGO partner. It allowed me to test my courage, as well as apply my knowledge and strategies I developed over three decades of work at Pfizer in a new setting.
The overall goal for my Fellowship was to assist Project HOPE in developing an enhanced health program communication strategy and program communications tools. In partnership with the team, we were able to deliver a comprehensive communication plan with specific ideas for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and donors. Among the communication tools we developed were: the HOPESEA newsletter; a technical manual on Positive Deviants; inputs for the Project HOPE South East Asia (PH SEA) website; two-page donor “conversation starter” overviews for SEA Region as well as India, Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal and Bangladesh; donor and government project presentations and internal process support tools.
The Fellowship afforded me the opportunity to view health care through a unique lens that provided vivid awareness and greater insight into global healthcare issues that require human, financial and technical resources. A key objective in my current role at Pfizer is to incorporate the Triple Aim into customer projects. This means working to simultaneously improve the health of a population, enhance the experience and outcomes of the patient and reduce per capita cost of care for the benefit of all in the community. These doctrines can be applied universally, and my Fellowship helped me see that the best means of improving global healthcare is to share this vision while empowering communities to incorporate local solutions. This is exactly what Project HOPE does around the globe – you activate your vision to enable local solutions to support community healthcare.
This is exactly what Project HOPE does around the globe –
you activate your vision to enable local solutions
to support community healthcare.
Now that I am back in the US, I have committed to continuing to support Project HOPE in my personal time … and thankfully my friends in India have accepted this offer! I say friends as I know I will always have these amazing dear people in my life. The Project HOPE team and India made me a better person. I can only humbly hope that my contributions hold a value for them too.
The truest measure lies not in our service to others, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.
~ A Buddhist Nun
PART 3: Interactive Engagement Means Better MNCH
Suchi Gaur, Ph.D., HOPE’s Communication Specialist in South-East Asia, visited outlying regions of Nepal where Project HOPE is working to improve health for mothers and children in the most challenging geographic conditions. This is the third of a three-part blog series about her experiences.
Crippled by poverty, seclusion and lack of access, Raksirang Village Development Committee (VDC) in the Makwanpur district of Nepal is also a region plagued with poor maternal and neonatal child health indicators. Project HOPE’s SPARSH-M program is responding through a local team and social mobilizers to train community health workers and health post in-charges as well as educating the community to help bridge gaps between access, quality service and demand.
The participatory nature of the trainings have been immensely valuable in raising the consciousness of women in this VDC, one of the five in which the program operates. One of the highlights of the program has been revitalizing mothers meetings to be more engaging. Recently, I participated in one of these meetings.
The frontline community health worker (FCHV) led a discussion on diarrhea and preventing infections in children, which resulted in great responsiveness and interaction among the mothers in attendance. The program creates awareness and aims to improve practices on quality maternal, neonatal, child health and hygiene services, prompting participants to adopt actionable behaviors. With poor infrastructure, lack of adequate water sources and absence of immediate health services, the fact that most people had a water tank outside their hut for washing hands showed a need for change.
The community women are excited, asking the FCHV for more details. They look forward to the sessions and also push other women to join in.
The Social Mobilizer is a key player in activating these mothers meetings,
traveling from house to house, engaging in conversations, making sure
pregnant, lactating mothers are provided with the best health services and information.
The social Mobilizer is a key player in activating these mothers meetings, traveling from house to house, engaging in conversations, making sure pregnant, lactating mothers are provided with the best health services and information. Despite the community’s overall reluctant attitude towards health services, the rigorous engagement of the Social Mobilizer and his facilitation in the field has made many community members actively seek services. Home visits are an important way to keep the community active and involved in health behavior change. The local team works with local government officials to advocate the successes of SPARSH-M at the institutional level in an effort to scale up good practices throughout the region.
At the end of the session, the nurse provided infants with food while she discussed the challenges she faces. Even though resources are scarce, growing access to urban markets creates a major challenge in preventing young children from getting addicted to fast food and sodas. I was surprised that despite a lack of adequate resources, people were wasting money on unhealthy snacks.
Even though resources are scarce,
growing access to urban markets creates a major challenge in
preventing young children from getting addicted to fast food and sodas.
As I walked down the hill to start the journey back, I realized that in a place where disasters had happened and services were still inadequate, a program like SPARSH-M can provide access and information to even the remotest and least resourced region in Nepal. In a region where basic education, early marriage and multiple pregnancies during adolescence is common, the importance of maternal, neonatal and nutritional education is essential. A program like ours is pushing boundaries.
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