Monday, October 6, 2014

"Stethoscopes for Peru"

The Stethoscope Project is only a small part of our overall project to help people in the San Martin Region, Mariscal Caceres Province of Peru become aware of the need to check newborns, children, and adults, for signs of congenital heart defects, and to provide for them the means to do it, using their own resources.  I have a dear friend in Juanjui, Peru, her name is Dr Ingrid.  For 98% of the women and many of the children in the town of Juanjui and the river villages, she is their doctor.

Ingrid asked me last year to help her find a Cardiologist that could come to Juanjui.  She suspects there are a lot of undiagnosed cardiac issues among the population there. Women give birth, usually at home, and the child is likely never seen by a doctor. Thus many illnesses go undetected, as well as recognition of cardiac issues, treatable at a young age if discovered.  Many adults also show signs of cardiac disease but there is no doctor nor any close clinics or healthcare facilities where they can go, even if the financial resources were available.

A Cardiologist friend, now volunteering fulltime in China, Dr Robert Detrano, from UCLA Med School, wrote an article regarding the easiest way to make this happen in developing countries.  The article is available on request.  Thus starts the Juanjui Cardiac Project. The Stethoscopes for Peru is the first step in the project.

There is a small Nursing School in Juanjui and The Luz Fund enjoys a close working relationship with the administrator, Dr Vasquez.  But Stethoscope training is likely not understood well enough to allow the students to recognize cardiac issues when they hear them.  Our plan is to give the nursing students thorough instruction on Stethoscope heart sounds.  Then to use those students in a screening program, described by Dr Detrano, in the schools in the province of San Martin(Juanjui and the river villages).  Those students registering positive indicators will be further reviewed locally by a Luz Fund volunteer ECHO Tech and Cardiologist. Those still positive have already been pre-approved for referral to the Los Ninos Children’s Hospital, Lima, for followup, or to the heart team of Heart Care International(HCI).  HCI is a heart team from New York that visits Los Ninos Hospital twice each year to perform free heart surgeries on children who would otherwise never receive treatment, through no fault of their own.

I have been extremely fortunate, since we started this planning, to have a Portable Diagnostic Ultrasound Machine, a Seimens Acuson Cypress, donated to our organization, The Luz Fund, by Mina Tohid, a Sonographer from Los Angeles.  I feel that once started, this project can be carried on by local healthcare workers in a self sustaining manner.  A local person will receive professional training  to obtain good results with the portable ECHO. The results will help innumerable people, who at present, have no awareness of the potential problems they may have.
Tentative dates for implementing the program in Juanjui are September/October/November 2014.

I would be extremely grateful for any assistance you may be able to provide or to suggest.
If you would like to be included on a future trip to Peru with us, just ask.

Chuck Mulhern,  The Luz Fund
Tel:  813-689-3289 (Home)                                     
Cel:  813-215-0071                           

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