Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dr. Karen R. Breitkreuz - a visit w/ Mrs. Magana

In addition to the Easter Camps, School Gardens, and Community Fair, our Peace Village effort created additional partnerships within the Health and Agriculture communities of Corozal.  Dr. Karen Breitkreuz, one of our lead faculty for the trip, provides a view from our Health Science and Nursing partnership 

A Visit with Mrs. Magaña

Mrs. Magana

Imagine, if there was no doctor in your community?

Imagine, even if there were a doctor, you had no money to pay if you went to see them?

Imagine, well you probably can’t, but imagine if no one had ever told you to wash your hands or brush your teeth, or what to do when you caught a cold, or were bitten by mosquitoes.

Imagine, there was no chicken soup at Grandma’s house for those colds, and no clean water to wash the wounds.

This was the situation in Corozal District of Belize about 25 years ago.   There were people, and they were fishing, and marrying, and having families, but medicine and health were concepts for others, not their community.   Then entered an NGO (a non-governmental organization); an organization who decided to train community health workers. 

This story is true, and this is the story Mrs. Magaña told me when I was able to visit with her last week.  Mrs. Magaña was one of the first; one of the first Community Health Workers that is.  The NGO came in, and she volunteered to teach others her village to be healthy.  For five years, and without pay, Mrs. Magaña worked tirelessly to learn all she could and to help others in her community have healthier lives.  Then the NGO project ended.  The government had started taking over healthcare, a hospital was being built in one of the bigger villages (Corozal), and community health-worker jobs were being transitioned.

Mrs. Magaña’s efforts, however, had not gone unnoticed.  She was asked to take the lead as the Community Health Educator and be paid to coordinate all of the other health workers. 
Now Mrs. Magaña is a conscientious lady.  She knows when she’s in over her head and she knows how to get the job done.  So she talked to the person offering her the job, and said she’d only take it, if they trained her.  She insisted.  They agreed.

So for the past 20 or so years, Mrs. Magaña has coordinated and trained all of the Community Health Workers in her district of Corozal.  When someone in the village is sick and can’t pay for the doctor, the Health Workers go door-to-door to raise money to pay for the medical care.  They check in on those who are sick at home, they encourage healthy nutrition in diabetics, they follow up on newborns and pregnant mom’s and encourage health at many levels in the community, and they help to run local village clinics for all those who need more medical attention. 

When the community needed a public health clinic Mrs. Magaña said, she gathered her community health workers and asked them who was married to a mason, and finding a qualified participant, they gathered supplies and built a clinic.

I had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Magana this week.  My students had the privilege of going to the villages with her Community Health Workers, and even assisting in various aspects of patient care.  The phrase that one student used when describing this experience was “awesome”…

Mrs. Magaña is one of the many humble, inspiring and dedicated people who I was privileged to meet in the village of Corozal this week, and who invited us to return. 

Words cannot adequately describe how much respect I have for this Mrs. Magaña, and so many of the others I met in Corozal.   Words don’t seem to do justice to the deep impression a meeting like that has.  It is humbling, and also inspiring to see such dedication.

Someday soon I hope to return, and take more students, and further our collaboration.
Until then and for now I must say, Thank you Corozal.

Thanks to all who made this inter-collaborative Interdisciplinary experience possible!

With profound respect,

Dr. Karen R. Breitkreuz Ed.D., M.S.N., R.N., C.N.E.

Nursing students Lyn Ages, Megan Hull, Michele  Williams, and Dr. Breitkreuz

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