Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Providing Care and Mentoring on Corn Island

Once again flexibility had to be put into practice.

Project HOPE volunteer, Dr. Robert Alan Jamison, a retired pediatrician from Morristown, Tennessee was chosen to go out to a remote area in Nicaragua, Corn Island, for five days and three nights. He was totally expecting to sleep on an army cot with a bivouac mosquito tent.

When the team arrived on Corn island, (about a 20 minute helicopter ride), they found out there might be some old barracks in which they could set up.

Then came the time to be real flexible, they ended up staying at a nice…well, …ahem…a resort run by a Canadian! What a shame! An anonymous donor heard the doctors and nurses were arriving to help out at the medical clinic and paid for the expense of the hotel. Dr. Alan did have to pay for his own M.R.E.s (That is what I call My Real Eatery) and did not have to eat the military M.R.E.s (Meals Ready to Eat). He admitted it was a nice surprise and did not mind paying for the food. What a reward for being willing to suffer in the heat and uncomfortable sleeping conditions!

Apart from the nice surprise of not having to sleep in a tube made of netting, Dr. Alan was very pleased with the health he saw in the children on Corn Island. They were very clean, and out of all the children he saw, there were only two with impetigo (skin infections) and a few had colds, etc. Over all the whole medical team saw 300 people per day.

“On Corn Island they have limited resources and it can be difficult getting the flow of medical equipment and medication to the clinic.” Dr. Alan says. One of the items needed was medication for nebulizers. The team was able to communicate the need and have more delivered to the clinic from the ship.

“The staff makes a good effort and they really care for the people on the island,” Dr. Alan says.

In addition to caring for patients, the retired pediatrician, said he enjoyed the consultation opportunities he had with local health care providers. The local providers would bring patients for him and another doctor to see for a consultation, and vise-a-versa. It was a real interchange of ideas and working together. There was a mutual respect for the knowledge that each had.

“These people are healthy and don’t always need meds, but they need someone to talk to, someone to recommend and encourage basic health care and physical fitness,” he adds. “They come to seek attention to their problems and complaints. It helps create a relationship between the inhabitants and the clinic. Part of it is to help them realize that there is a clinic right there for them. We can also encourage them in routine health care and to take advantage of what is available to them.”

Dr. Alan said that Tylenol, Ibuprofen and vitamins are not readily available and they want them and need them at the clinic. He said that after the medical site is closed, the medications that were not used are left for the clinic.

When asked what he came back with from his five-day adventure, Dr. Alan says “Friends.” He will try to stay in contact with the administrator of the clinic, Fay, and see how he can get some items that were specifically requested to them.

Story by Bonnie Hudlet, HOPE's Volunteer Public Affairs Officer

Photos for this story provided by Dr. Alan Jamison


  1. Bonnie (Dr. Alan's Daughter)September 30, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    I am sure we could get some of those otc medicines like Tylenol and ibuprofen donated if we had a place to send them. I would me more than happy to ship some if you could provide the details on how to do that.

  2. Melanie Mullinax mmullinax@projecthope.orgSeptember 30, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    Hi Bonnie,

    Please provide me with your contact info and I will have someone from Project HOPE who deals with donation distribution contact you