A Word From Our Leading Physician

Health Initiatives of Vidas De Experanza

Abroad

In 2008, Vidas began its programs of medical missions in the Mezquital Valley of Mexico for several of the Indian tribes of the Otomi and other isolated mountain tribes.  Participation has been enthusiastic, especially in those isolated areas beyond the reach of the meager resources provided by the Mexican Government’s health insurance plan.

The rationale for our health programs is simple and coincides with the overall goal of Vidas : To help the indigenous peoples to better themselves. In keeping with the philosophy behind the milk and eggs program, we believe that t is difficult for people to learn from our educational programs or for children to learn in school if they are sick and hungry.  Thus, our medical goal has been to improve the lives of those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and to prevent the long-term consequences of high blood pressure, alcoholism, and stroke. Healthier people are more productive.

We have been fortunate to have the backing of the Department of Internal Medicine at University of North Carolina which has provided support for residents in Medicine that choose to accompany us on our medical mission trips.

This year, we have added free basic prescription drugs to our provided services to help the neediest, who in general, earn $10-15 week or less and who frequently subsist on bartering.

We have also partnered with a selfless dentist from Ixmilquilpan, Mexico, who has worked with us without pay to try to address the extensive dental needs of our patients.

Although our past focus has been the medical needs of the Otomi Village of El Tablon, our future plans are evolving as we reconsider our previous decision to build a stationary medical clinic, and deliberate the value of a mobile clinic that can provide more help to a more diverse and isolated population.

Future plans also include partnering with other like-minded physicians in Mexico to consider mutual projects such as an overnight home for pregnant women in labor from distant communities.

As always, funds are in short supply, and we always need support for travel expenses, medicines and for equipping a mobile clinic van to replace our battered and unreliable travel van.

Here at Home

In January, Vidas began a partnership with Vinculo Latino, a service linked to the Chatham County Social Services of North Carolina, to begin a series of free clinics for the impoverished workers in Siler City, NC. This town is a recent victim of our poor economy that has caused the closing of several manufacturing plants. Most of these patients are Spanish speaking, but our clinical services are open to anyone that needs care.

The last Saturday of each month we hold a day-long clnic in Siler City, in the offices of Dr. John Dykers, a retired internist who has provided us the use of his old clinic space free of charge.  Many other generous patrons have stepped forward including Gregory Vassie of Pittsboro, NC, who has provided basic medical drugs for the needy, Jason Flittner of CISCO Inc, who has provided us with an electronic medical record free of charge, and many doctors and nurses from the Faculty of the School of Medicine at UNC who have volunteered their valuable time to staff the clinic. Finally, UNC has continued its commitment to the care of all the people of North Carolina by supporting this free clinic with malpractice insurance for the UNC faculty members that participate.

The enthusiasm of the community for our free clinic has been overwhelming, and our future hopes are to expand our services. Currently we have physicians from medicine, surgery and gynecology on our staff and hope to expand to include pediatrics.

Unfortunately, our “at home” programs also are in need of donations to finance  our PAP smear contract with the State of North Carolina, buy medicines for the neediest and to support our clinical programs.

In the end, we believe that Vidas, as it expands its medical vision and mission, will offer a ray of hope to many people, both at home and abroad, that otherwise might never experience a life with hope.

By Dr. John Steven Kizer, M.D.