Karen Bixby and RN Mary Jane Gross came to MedShare’s San Leandro Medical Team Store in June to shop for Karen’s daughter, Jessica Bixby, a Peace Corps volunteer. They selected ambu bags, sphygmomanometers, stethoscopes, OB/GYN supplies, diapers, wound care and about 30 Clean Birthing Kits. As a Peace Corps volunteer, Jessica Bixby traveled to a small community named Walter Acevedo that is housing project outside of a large rice plantation and is in the department of Rio San Juan that lies on the southeastern portion of Nicaragua. The community has around 800 residents in the town center and another 1,000 live in surrounding farming communities.
Walter Acevedo also has a health outpost that has one nurse, 3 nursing assistants, and two doctors in their “social service”, which is required of all doctors graduating from public universities and is the base of rural healthcare. One of the primary objectives of Nicaragua’s public health ministry is to reduce maternal mortalities by placing a strong emphasis on institutionalized births. Therefore, Casas Maternas have been opened across the country to move pregnant women in their final weeks closer to health centers. However, midwives are still common in some more rural areas and occasionally even receive training from the health ministry, even though they are “taboo” in official health ministry circles.
MedShare sent 30 Clean Birthing Kits with Jessica for this community. According to Jessica, MedShare’s birthing-kits are going to serve a dual purpose. Half the kits were designated to be kept in the Casa Materna, that Jessica will help to manage and will be given to pregnant woman who have institutionalized births. The scalpels, umbilical cord clamps, and gloves will be used by the doctors and the health center workers to aid the births. These items were used during the birth or will kept at the health center for use in the future. The underpads, feminine products, disposable underwear, and receiving blanket were all used immediately by the mothers! Feminine products and diapers are very expensive and greatly appreciated along with the adorable receiving blankets. We send the soap and sterilization pads home with the mothers with oral instructions.
The other birthing kits are going to be distributed to active midwives and volunteer health workers (brigadistas) who live in more rural communities. Jessica will visit each brigadista to train them how to properly use each birthing kit and the function of each item included.
Jessica received medical supplies such as the blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, and manual resuscitator (ambu bags) which were welcome donations for the nurses and doctors. The nurses and doctors have been sharing one blood pressure cuff so these donations are very needed and will even relieve some tension in the health center.