Bridges’ Health Program takes preventive care and health infrastructure to the people living in isolated rural communities. Our projects range from workshops to the construction of health facilities and potable water systems. Our hygienic latrines and high-efficiency indoor stoves improve sanitation and reduce chronic illnesses. Our volunteers provide medical and dental care, with the goal of ensuring the health and well-being of all ages and providing sustainable management of water and sanitation to the in need.
Our projects range from workshops to the construction of health facilities and potable water systems. Our hygienic latrines and high-efficiency indoor stoves improve sanitation and reduce chronic illnesses. Our volunteers provide medical and dental care, with the goal of ensuring the health and well-being of all ages and providing sustainable management of water and sanitation to the in need.
- 2,750 Nicaraguans annually benefit directly from Bridges medical brigades
- In 2014, Bridges built a maternity clinic that provides over 9,000 women safe and pre- and post- natal care
- Bridges provided running water, flush toilets, showers, and medical waste disposal incinerators to the Siuna regional hospital that serves 80,000 people
- Bridges has constructed and donated to the Ministry of Health 4 medical centers throughout rural Nicaragua
- Bridges educational workshops help train hundreds of medical professionals
- Bridges volunteers annually build over 60 latrines and smoke reducing stoves
- In the fall of 2017, Bridges began construction on a regional clinic in a remote area of Nicaragua that will service 18,000 residents with 24 hour care. Construction is due to be completed in March of 2018.
Medical Brigades – In the Autonomous Region of the North Atlantic (RAAN), in the northeast region of Nicaragua, communities are very rural and spread out, making a trip to a health clinic a serious challenge for the majority of people who have to travel on foot, sometimes for days. Bridges brings health brigades made up of global health students and doctors to these communities, and they work closely with Nicaraguan doctors. While there they hold primary healthcare clinics – lasting one to four weeks – that see up to 50 patients a day, currently benefitting over 2,750 Nicaraguans annually. In the coming year we expect to have eight medical brigade team members in Nicaragua for eleven weeks. The Ministry of Health’s data shows significant increase of patients each time a BTC Medical Brigade comes to assist the Nicaraguan doctors. Our longer-term goal is to increase the frequency of these clinics by 4-5 weeks in each of the coming years, so there will be a high level of patient support over time.
Hormiguero Clinic – Bridges to Community has been asked by residents of the RAAN department of Nicaragua and the Ministry of Health to improve health care services by building a new clinic, which will provide consistent access to medical care. This clinic, on which we expect to begin construction this coming year, will be the model for regional rural clinics in Nicaragua. It follows plans that the Pan-American Health Organization has been advocating for Nicaragua to implement to properly coordinate and provide health care to 51 hard-to-reach rural communities with a total population of approximately 18,000 residents. This new clinic will:
- Operate 24 hours per day and refuse no one, providing consistent access to care that will generate long-term health benefits and create a model for the region’s health program.
- Offer critically-needed medical services, including: preventative treatments, care for women and children, immunizations, medication and mosquito-borne illness information.
Hygienic Latrines and Biodigestors – In Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, latrines are an essential aspect of health and sanitation for rural families. In most of the communities that we work with, several families will share a latrine in poor condition, or may not have access to a latrine at all. This can lead to contamination of water sources and the spread of disease. Bridges to Community constructs hygienic latrines where pits can be dug deep enough to not effect water sources, or biodigestors in areas where pit latrines are unsafe. Biodigestors break down organic waste to produce a renewable energy called biogas that can be used to fuel stoves, and the run-off water from the process can be used for irrigation and fertilization of community farms.
Reforestation– Deforestation and drought are the two largest environmental problems facing Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. We work with a number of communities in each country to promote reforestation, agro-forestry and diversification of crops. One example of our work: In El Portillo, a rural community about 90 minutes south of Managua, Bridges is helping the community grow over 750 seedlings in its nursery, and has planted over 350 trees, including Mahogany, fruit trees, and Central American native timber trees. The land was overgrown with shrubs and weeds, but this terrain is being transformed into a farm that produces vegetables and fruit, and is surrounded by large shady trees. One of the project’s most important contributions is the training of over 150 families in the art of diversified agriculture, small scale irrigation, conservation and small subsistence farming method and design, using the two acre plot as a teaching model. With this training, individual families will be able to replicate the reforestation project on their own land on a smaller scale. This will provide much needed healthy food for families, with the potential for extra income through the sale of fruits and vegetables, as well as reducing the carbon dioxide output. Going forward, we will maintain comparable projects in Nindiri, Siuna and Caimonial, and will replicate this model in at least three new locations.
Bridges to Community to build regional medical clinic in Hormiguero.
In the RAAN region in remote northeastern Nicaragua, most people are indigenous farmers living on about $1 per day. Currently, people walk up to 10 hours to reach a two-room medical outpost in the rural town of Hormiguero. For 15 years, Bridges to Community has sent volunteer healthcare professionals to this clinic to collaborate with local doctors and nurses. Volunteers see on average over 50 patients per day .
New Medical Brigade Part of Bridges Long Term Health Program Goals
This November five medical professionals led by Dr. Michael Lahn, an emergency physician at New York Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital, will be participating in a medical brigade in Nicaragua with Bridges to Community. The group will provide care and engage in cross-cultural exchange in rural communities where Bridges to Community works, and contributes to Bridges’ goals to expand its health program.
Marietta College Volunteer Reflects on Bridges Trip
On the evening of New Year’s Day 2016, I was sitting in my room in McCoy Hall feeling palpably both uneasy and excited, already unpacked for a semester which was not to start for another 10 days. In a few hours, I would be departing for Nicaragua with six other students for the Office of Civic Engagement’s (OCE) annual International Alternative Winter Break trip.
Bridges to Community Maternity House Exceeds Expectations
The idea for the Siuna Maternity House came unexpectedly during a community meeting in Hormiguero to discuss a proposed health center. “As we were talking about the health center, the focus shifted to a maternity house, and in the diagnostic study that we conducted, it was mentioned by almost everyone in the community.”
Furnishings to be Donated to Maternity Center!
Masaya – Bridges Nicaragua Country Director Kenia Ramirez has announced a wonderful donation from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health that will help us stock and furnish our Maternity House in Siuna! “Bridges will complete construction of the Maternity Clinic by July 10th and is excited to see its great impact on the people of Siuna. Thanks to the Ministry of Health, the clinic’s effect will be amplified and accelerated,” stated Director Kenia Ramirez.