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Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - Roper St. Francis Healthcare again steps up to assist rural Nicaraguan hospital


The rural Bluefields hospital in Nicaragua sometimes uses cardboard boxes or pieces of foam as mattresses for its patients’ beds.

That soon will change because of the generosity of Roper St. Francis Healthcare, which is donating 46 mattresses to the hospital. That’s enough to give nearly half of the beds in the Nicaraguan hospital a real mattress.

“This is making life-long changes for the hospital,” said Ali Swanson, a RSFH physician assistant who leads the nonprofit Partners 4 Global Health and serves as a link between the Nicaraguan hospital and RSFH. “These mattresses are more sanitary, better for patients’ skin and more comfortable. This will help give those patients better care.”

On Friday, Swanson and a few Partners 4 Global Health supporters loaded mattresses and furniture into a U-Haul to be taken to storage. Swanson hopes to be able to load the storage items into the two containers for shipping in about two months.

Roper St. Francis Healthcare bought 200 new beds for Roper Hospital and can receive some money back from the old frames. The mattresses, however, can’t be exchanged for money, so RSFH agreed to donate some to Partners 4 Global Health.

This is the fourth time RSFH has made a substantial donation of equipment to the hospital. RSFH helped facilitate free storage space for Partners 4 Global Health to keep some of the donated equipment and will pay to ship one of the containers to the hospital.

“RSFH is honored to be an ongoing resource and support for the Bluefields hospital and community,” said Mark Dickson, vice president of mission. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to think globally and assist those throughout the world who are most vulnerable. We extend our mission for global outreach knowing we are all sisters and brothers across the nations. This recent donation is a sign of good stewardship, and it’s nice to know people will be resting more comfortably there as they heal.”

Dr. Marvin Sanchez, the director of the Bluefields hospital, wrote a letter of gratitude to RSFH and its teammates. He described the hospital as serving more than 200,000 residents of limited economic resources.

“I must be grateful for the support received from you throughout these years,” he wrote. “Thanks to that support, we have saved many lives and offered more efficient services to our patients.”

The vast majority of $203,000 worth of equipment and furniture on the two shipping containers collected by Partners 4 Global Health is from RSFH. When RSF Mount Pleasant Hospital closed its labor and delivery unit, it donated nearly all of its equipment and supplies, including delivery beds, recliners, gliders, laundry carts, sleeper couches, bassinettes and bedside tables.

“We filled the entire 1,000 square foot storage space with stuff as high as we could,” Swanson said.

Teammates also were asked to donate used scrubs, and they provided hundreds of pairs for the hospital. Swanson said she was especially grateful for the teammates who contributed because the scrubs will be put to good use in the hospital. RSFH donated other items, too, such as unused 26 PAPR hoods and gloves.

Last year, RSFH helped fill a container with $140,000 worth of items, including isolettes, an ultrasound machine, exam tables, an X-ray machine and a surgical microscope that will enable surgeons to do procedures they haven’t previously done, such as ear tubes.

In 2017, the healthcare system covered half of the cost of shipping the container as well as donated 30 hospital beds from RSF Mount Pleasant Hospital as well as two nursery rocking chairs, 14 baby transport carts, a pediatric exam table and many more supplies.

Sanchez wrote that future collaboration between Partners 4 Global Health and RSFH “will return the smile and hope to many children, pregnant women and the general population who come to our hospital unit. We do not coincide by chance, we are God’s instruments and through you and us God wants to make his plan of love and kindness come true for those who suffer from any disease.

“I invite you to continue with good vibes and abundant energy, contributing that grain of sand that gives a light at the end of the tunnel to the most suffering and needy.”

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