Socks, Thermometers and Opthalmascopes for Madagascar

  Cass with a recently born baby.

Cass with a recently born baby.

Some people look forward to retirement so that they can spend their days on the golf course, or poolside, or relaxing on the front porch. Not my mother-in-law. When she retired from her career as a pediatric nurse practitioner (having spent most of her career at DC's Children's Hospital), Cass Cooney began doing medical mission work.

This September she will be going to Madagascar for the second year in a row, and she needs help. Normally here at The Adventures of Kim Kash, I natter on about books, travel, and my very comfortable home life. But today's post is different. Today I invite Cass to talk about her work. I also ask you to offer a donation to help her bring medical care to families who live with less than we can possibly imagine, and do so with grace. 

Here's Cass, talking about this year's medical mission: 

  Cass doing triage with the waiting patients and family.

Cass doing triage with the waiting patients and family.

This year's team consist of nine volunteers, seven of which are medical persons and two of whom are focusing on other aspects of care - such as literacy training, micro-lending for small businesses, healthy village worker development, and support for the medical clinics. There is really a lot done in two weeks by a small group of people!

The focus of the medical team this year will be on the reduction of maternal and child mortality around the birth period. Classroom sessions will be directed toward infant resuscitation,  care of the infant immediately after birth and for the first 24 hours, handling hemorrhage during pregnancy, critical care issues in pregnancy and delivery, and hemoglobin testing to identify anemia.

In addition, last year the need for education in the treatment of respiratory illnesses became apparent when we were conducting the free clinics. So this year we have a pulmonary doctor with the team, and he will offer lectures to the midwives, community and hospital physicians in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and in asthma management when electricity is not available. We will also be at the hospital in the afternoons of the first week to mentor and assist.

  Families awaiting clinic opening in the bush village. Some traveled on foot all night to get there for the opening.

Families awaiting clinic opening in the bush village. Some traveled on foot all night to get there for the opening.

The second week we go out to the bush. Last year we saw 250 patients a day in the bush. Some people had walked for three days to get there. It was a most humbling experience. The needs were overwhelming and the resources were limited to what we carried with us, and to what could be done without electricity or clean water, or the  ability to heat water. We are also going to include a day of clinical care at the prison on this trip. The prisoners, including mothers with young children, receive no medical care.

All the volunteers pay their own way and for all the expenses that are involved in housing, food and transportation there. These come to around $4,000.00 per person.

Doesn't leave much to spend out-of-pocket on supplies that we would like to have or to donate to the medical clinics there. I would like to be able to get an otoscope/opthalmascope for the pediatric clinic, and one or two electric thermometers too. They had none of these last year and conditions have deteriorated since then.

These two things would cost about $900.00. I have a set of my own that I carry with me. Last year we saw an 18-month-old who had a raging ear infection in both ears that would have gone undetected if I hadn't had my equipment with me. The doctors and midwives that I met were very caring and dedicated, but they practice with such limited resources.

  Mother bathing her baby before coming to clinic.

Mother bathing her baby before coming to clinic.

One thing that impressed me the most was the attitude of the people. The parents were very loving and proud of their children. They took such care to dress them and have them clean before coming to the free clinics. This in an area with no clean or running water, and no store to purchase soap!

  Cass treating a young boy's infected foot. Note how well-dressed and scrubbed the child is. Though poor, families have much pride in presenting themselves and children to the western medical team.

Cass treating a young boy's infected foot. Note how well-dressed and scrubbed the child is. Though poor, families have much pride in presenting themselves and children to the western medical team.

On a smaller scale, I plan this year to take as much antibiotic ointment and bandaids as I can, because I ran out last year and had to be really stingy in how I handed them out. I also want to take a supply of thin, inexpensive cotton socks, which was one of the things I really needed last year for the kids with parasitic infections.

Thanks for your offer of help.

Donations can be made on-line by going to www.caringresponse.org

Click on  "donate"

Click on  "Network for Good"

Then make the donation on-line through Network for Good.

Please designate the donation to Medical Mission 2013-Cass Cooney.

-or-

Send a check to:

Caring Response to Madagascar Foundation

1193 Balmoral Drive

Cinncinati, OH  45233 USA

Please designate the donation to Medical Mission 2013-Cass Cooney

 

Back to Kim: More and more people are finding joy in doing volunteer work while they are on holiday: painting a school, helping with a harvest, building a house. A whole lot of good  is being done in the world, little by little. But these medical missions are way, way beyond that. This team spends the entire two weeks, from morning until night, caring for patients and doing training in very primitive conditions. This is no pleasure cruise. Cass could, in fact, be enjoying a pleasure cruise this fall, but she chooses to serve in Madagascar instead.

Please donate generously.