COVID-19 Updates from NPH
During this global threat, the NPH family continues to ensure essential food and care for the most vulnerable and needy in our society.
To learn more about one of NPH homes, including COVID-19/Coronavirus updates, click it on the map.
Latin America remains the epicenter of the pandemic. According to our weekly tracker, Peru and Mexico continue to lead among the countries where NPH operates, with respect to the report of new cases and total deaths. Mexico is reporting more than 60,000 total deaths nationwide.
NPH homes remain safe and stable, although last week was a difficult one for the NPH family to lose an important family member, Wilmer Arias, and we hope that God already has Wilmer in his kingdom. We also mourn the tragic death of a doctor from Saint Damian Hospital and her son in Haiti.
We continue to highlight the need to learn the concept of “the new normal” and practice the new rules of social co-existence, which include the correct use of masks, maintaining social distance, avoiding crowds, and self-isolating or staying at home if you are sick.
We continue to stress the need to enhance mental health-oriented activities and services. We must search for strategies to reactivate these services safely so that they can reach those who need them most.
We continue to call attention to NNA (boys, girls, and adolescents) who suffer from chronic diseases, to seek health alternatives, to continue providing necessary services, and to ensure that their diseases remain under control.
We continue to call attention to this second part of the year. Let us seek to alleviate the negative effects of isolation and quarantines, seek to be creative and not hide our realities, to recognize the consequences of the pandemic in its different dimensions, not just the economic ones, and proactively continue to seek creative and safe solutions.
We continue to keep the whole NPH family in our prayers, especially the most vulnerable members, those who suffer from chronic diseases, those who do not find solutions to their problems, may God give them comfort and strength to overcome these difficulties.
We thank all people with good hearts who are always showing us their solidarity.
Photo above: NPH El Salvador
NPH homes remain stable and safe for the children and adolescents who reside there. All health prevention measures continue to be implemented and, so far, we have not encountered any problems beyond our control. In one home that is facing an outbreak, this outbreak is increasingly coming under our control. Thanks to strict and daily medical monitoring, a group of highly vulnerable people that were affected are managing to overcome COVID, although we are always afraid of the potential Post-COVID complications. They are being closely monitored so that we can act early in case of any complications.
In some homes, the quarantine protocol has changed. Employees now quarantine in their homes with their families and are administered a rapid test before entering the NPH residence. We are becoming more comfortable with this practice and we are learning from it. Though some homes have reported detection of a positive case within their small group population, they have conducted a general isolation within the home for 14 days according to protocol.
Homes, under the leadership of their doctors and nurses, apply appropriate measures and recommendations every day always under the premise of keeping homes and children safe. This create a dynamic of constant decision-making or rolling changes to work plans but, for now, it is the right strategy to keep the residential environments safe.
Latin America continues to show an increase in cases every day; it is still the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic. We see parts of economies reopening, like schools in the case of Nicaragua and Haiti, but we have yet to see the results of these decisions. NPH schools have implemented prevention and protection protocols, but reopening is still a major logistical challenge.
Hospitals are still refusing elective procedure and specialized consultations for the vast majority of patients, including in the private sector. Though reports stay primary care is being strengthened in order to alleviate the burden on hospitals, in most countries the picture still is a complex one. Most doctors and nurses are dying and the vast majority of hospitals in the public network are not infection-free—that is, they are hot spots for COVID-19 contagion.
In the few hospitals operating in the region, the priority is COVID, somewhat forgetting that other medical conditions still exist and people suffer from them.
We see the example of the insurance system offered by social security in Honduras. Because 40% of private companies have closed their doors, they are not paying into the public insurance system. Hence, the social security system has seen its income cut and is now asking employers pay for the incapacity of their employees. This is pushing workers to continue working, even when they don’t fully meet infection prevention restrictions. Economic factors weigh heavily on the system and it can no longer bear the high costs generated by COVID-19 incapacity.
Consequently, this creates unstable and unsafe environments both in the workplace and in open society. Yet, in the middle of this catastrophe stands NPH, going as far as needed to respond appropriately to the need of the population under our protection, our employees, beneficiaries of programs in the communities, but not least of all hermanos mayores and those close to the NPH family. Even in this catastrophe, we remain committed to finding solutions.
Clearly the commitment we show at NPH is not possible without the enormous work that fundraisers do both in Latin America and in Offices outside the region. Their work is and will continue to be valuable, helping us to continue our commitment to deliver adequate healthcare responses in this unequal, high-need region.
Though our fear of COVID-19 may lessen which each day that passes, we are already tired, because we are already infected, or because we feel strong, we continue to strongly recommend that the basic health measures be practiced to fight COVID 19, including the mandatory use of masks, social distancing, avoiding agglomerated places, isolating ourselves if we are sick and taking care of our families and our communities.
Although despite the fact that each day that passes, we may lose our fear of COVID, because we are already tired, because we are already infected, or because we feel strong, we continue to strongly recommend that basic health measures be practiced against COVID 19, which are the mandatory use of masks, maintaining social distance, avoiding crowded places, isolating ourselves if we are sick, and taking care of our families and our communities.
We continue to appeal to international solidarity and national unity, continue to call for strength for our leaders within NPH at all levels, and keep the great NPH family in permanent prayer.
We give thanks for our lives and our families’ lives, and we honor all those who have lost loved ones to this Pandemic.
Photo above: A youth in the NPH OneFamily Program in Guatemala
Update from Dr. Edwin Vallecillo
Director of Medical Services, NPH International
August 20, 2020
New Normal: What the new normal means for NPH
From the perspective of NPHI Medical Services, we think the new normal is acceptance of the fact that COVID 19 will be with us for the next 6 months, at least, and we must look for different and creative ways to perform our daily routines.
A new normal does not mean the danger has passed, but rather that risks remain present, we understand them better, and we can apply intelligent measures to live with the virus among us. Therefore, in this new normal there are measures that are urgent to review and apply in the case that we have not yet done so within our homes:
1. Staff or anyone entering and leaving a residence must wear a mask as long as they remain inside NPH homes. The use of masks is one of the most effective measures to reduce contagion and prevent an outbreak.
2. Population segmentation: All households must review their population and identify the pertinent groups therein, i.e., segmentation of children with disabilities, boys’ homes, girls’ homes, older adults, and other groups present in the homes. For each segmented group, living routines should be established, including rest, work, and recreation. The ultimate goal of segmentation is that one segmented group does not mingle with another group. That is, each group will have its own routine and these routines can be reviewed and changed every 14 days. This practice minimizes the spread of a potential outbreak within the house.
3. The ban on large group activities or meetings of more than 15 to 25 people should be maintained. Although general activities within the homes are not recommended, activities can be carried out only between people within the same segmented group while practicing social distancing.
4. It is strongly recommended that all staff who can practice telework and work from home should do so, thus reducing the number of people who reside inside a home.
5. It is strongly recommended to purchase rapid tests and apply them to all personnel who periodically enter and leave NPH homes. The goal is to identify asymptomatic people who have already become infected, but have not developed symptoms and to identify people who are sick with mild symptoms. This helps to maintain permanent ongoing monitoring of the virus, learn where the virus is, and take action, as appropriate.
6. It is recommended that COVID-19 campaigns be carried out now to reinforce recommended practices, to talk about what the new normal means, to learn about current measures that are being implemented, and to train people to continue to practice prevention intelligently in the face of the new normal that we must live in.
7. It is recommended that we analyze quarantines and redesign the quarantine practice, as appropriate.
8. Hand washing, use of hydroalcoholic gel, and all hygiene and disinfection measures to treat surfaces and other areas should continue to be applied indefinitely.
9. When a positive case is identified, the patient’s contacts should be accurately tracked and those people strictly quarantined for 14 days.
10. Places for isolation and treatment of patients should be kept ready to accept and attend to a positive case at any time.
These are particularly important recommendations, which, if followed strategically and in an organized manner, will significantly diminish the chance of dealing with an outbreak.
The new normal means learning to live with the virus not only without losing vigilance, but also without losing the opportunity to look for new ways to carry on with our routines and ways of life. This is important because we anticipate that the virus will be among us for at least the next six months.
Photo above: Children at NPH Peru
Update from Dr. Edwin Vallecillo
Director of Medical Services, NPH International
August 12, 2020
In Latin America access to regular healthcare services has been radically affected by the pandemic. Hospitals are seeing a high demand for care for COVID-19 patients; primary care and specialized consultation services are partially or completely closed across entire regions.
Rural areas of Latin America have traditionally had limited coverage and minimal access to basic health services, especially regarding vaccination programs, chronic disease, disability care, and disease prevention.
Confinement measures have made these problems worse. We continue to be concerned about the lack of access to basic health services.
Other epidemics, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and vaccine-preventable diseases are at risk of proliferating and once again becoming factors in the advancement of sustainable development goals for health outcomes.
We have received reports of patients with COVID-19 infections who go to a hospital for the first time, only to learn they have diabetes or hypertension, precisely because of this poor access to services. In many cases, this combination of a chronic disease plus a COVID infection is fatal.
A sick society cannot prosper; it cannot advance in achieving its goals. A sick society generates high rates of spending on basic care and necessities, often in regions with small national budgets to fund these needs.
At NPH, confinement is taking a toll. Although our population with chronic diseases and disabilities receives prioritized services and extraordinary supervision, we are concerned that the lack of public primary care and specialized services may work against vulnerable groups who today find themselves with reduced access to their usual services.
We call on all of you to remain vigilant and alert to our most vulnerable populations and those suffering with chronic disease and disability. We call for activating service channels, researching health networks to uncover available services, and insisting on services that are necessary and cannot be delayed until the pandemic shows signs of waning.
NPH is a network of people helping others: our communal resilience is exemplified by people around us and within our communities who provide care and protect us. It is important to let others know that we can be there for them in hard times—especially for these vulnerable populations, the sick, and the disabled.
NPH stands firm in its prevention measures. All measures initially applied at the beginning of the outbreak remain in force. Use of masks is mandatory; we continue to practice social distancing, hand washing, respiratory hygiene, and quarantine.
We emphasize the need to increase capacity within NPH for rapid COVID testing as a strategy in the diagnosis and tracking of chronic carriers of the disease.
Many countries are beginning to reopen and we at NPH remain open to the idea. But anticipating how social behavior may evolve as schools in some areas start to open, we continue to monitor the results of this and other activities. We hope that, by now, we have learned valuable lessons.
At NPH, children and youth remain safe and live in healthy environments. In one of our homes facing an active COVID-19 outbreak, the team seems to be gaining ground on the virus, but it is still too early to talk about victories.
We are excited about news of vaccines and new treatments, but the reality is we must create a balance between health and the economy, applying all the lessons learned, practicing all prevention measures, and pushing our respective societies to join forces in this common struggle to keep the virus at bay.
It is not our intention to live in a perpetual COVID bubble, however, we want to be cautious and take firm steps when the time is right and when the region shows signs of ongoing social stability.
We keep in our prayers the health of our entire community and the NPH family. We ask for unity among our leaders and for international solidarity.
We pray for all those who’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19 and we pray for all those who daily fight this evil, that God will continue to give them the strength, health, and encouragement to move forward.
Photo above: Hand washing station at NPH Haiti
Update from Dr. Edwin Vallecillo
Director of Medical Services, NPH International
August 4, 2020
United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 3 aims to secure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. This goal is suffering a major setback during the pandemic. According to historical records, this novel coronavirus is the first to cause a pandemic in the proportion and scale we currently face by causing a tremendous impact not only on health, but also on socioeconomic status. We are learning a lesson: Strong, prepared primary healthcare is the best response to these types of epidemics. Therefore, at NPH we continue to work to strengthen primary or top-level care teams. We invest strategically and support teams that provide primary health response in communities and homes. This is a highly effective strategy that guarantees better preparedness for future epidemics.
Staying strong and united against this pandemic is our only way out. The solution is in our hands; it is in everyone’s hands. We must continue to implement the complete spectrum of measures to the fullest to prevent the transmission of this elusive virus within our communities.
This story had a different ending for one of our most vulnerable girls, an important member of the NPH family who suffered from severe disabilities, similar to her friends and housemates who suffer from similar conditions. After an apparent good recovery from a COVID-19 infection, she ultimately lost the battle and now rests in peace. Her loss saddens us greatly and we honor her memory by remembering her courage and all the love for her that remains in our hearts. We know that today there is an angel in heaven who will always be a cherished member of the NPH family.
I remember little Rosalba on the day of her baptism two years ago when I became her godfather for the christening; her loss moves me. I will always remember her fragility and purity. And I will continue to admire her for all the strength she showed in her walk through this life.
These are dire times and COVID-19 has yet to show us all that it can throw at us. There are still many surprises that could come with this virus and this scares us greatly. In Latin America, COVID-19 is only one more link in a chain of social calamity. We must continue to fight forcefully. We must unite our forces and remain ‘in community.’ We cannot avoid completely that bad things may happen, but we can continue to be prepared. We can continue to take our help and our hope to forgotten places and unprotected people—to the children in our protection programs as well as our prevention programs.
Today we suffer our first loss in the NPH family due to this virus, but we remain more motivated than ever to continue fighting in their memory. We are confident that as NPH channels all its resources and energies to remain in solidarity in the fight against this evil that we will succeed in our struggle to protect the most vulnerable in Latin America.
We continue to call for international solidarity and national unity. We pray for our leaders to continue to gain wisdom in these uncertain times. And we pray that NPH will remain united in faith and hope.
We deeply regret the loss of Rosalba. We stand in solidarity with the NPH family in Honduras now in pain. We wish them strength and comfort in these difficult times.
May God continue to be their guide and their rock.
Photo above: A youth gets a flu vaccine at NPH Peru.
• “A message from Bob Costas” – April 7, 2020
• “NPH Dominican Republic: We’ll Get Through This Together” – April 1, 2020
• “NPH El Salvador: COVID-19: A Physician Faces Her Greatest Challenge” – March 31, 2020
• “NPH Peru: Volunteers Lift Spirits Under Quarantine” – March 31, 2020
• “NPH Haiti and St. Luke Prepare for COVID-19” – March 27, 2020
• “NPH Bolivia: Staying Busy During Quarantine” – March 26, 2020
• “NPH Mexico Adopts COVID-19 Safeguards While Upholding the Call to Serve” – March 26, 2020
• “NPH Honduras: Amid Chaos, We Stand United” – March 24, 2020
• “NPH Honduras Highlights Its Heroes Amid the Coronavirus Crisis” – March 20, 2020
• “NPH El Salvador Children Send Love to Virus Sufferers” – March 20, 2020
• “NPH Dominican Republic Takes Preventive Measures To Protect Children” – March 20, 2020
• BLOG by William Stavinoha, MD: Neighbors Far Away – March 20, 2020