Forty-four years of earning trust and helping children thrive
By Ann Mauzé
For more than four decades, Patronato Pro Niños (PPN) has been experiencing an astonishing growth from treating a few sick children once a week in a founder’s living room to treating over 11,000 dental and medical cases last year. Now in its bright and cheery Children’s Health Center in Colonia Ignacio Ramirez, youngsters can have access to a physician or a dentist five days a week. And, just as importantly, if their parents can’t bring them in to town from the campo, our fully equipped and staffed dental vans will eventually be in their area to provide dental services.
To benefit Patronato Pro Niños
Fri, Jul 18, 6pm
La Hacienda de San Miguel
The event will include cocktails, a Mediterranean Buffet, dancing, plus silent and live auctions
US$125 or 1,500 pesos per person, all inclusive, except auction items
To order tickets, call Lily at 152-7796.
Every morning at 7:30 these mobile dental vans depart from San Miguel to visit two of the more than 350 villages with children needing dental care. Teachers, parents and children are usually waiting at the entrance of the village in anticipation of the van’s arrival. In a typical day, the dentist examines and treats 40 children before leaving for the night. After seeing the dentist, each boy and girl is the proud recipient of a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. For most, this is the first time they have owned either one.
Each day on The Morning Radio Show on San Miguel’s AM station, Patronato has a two-minute sponsoship between 7:30 and 8am that informs the listening audience about the location of the dental van that day, health tips in general and how to see the doctor in the Children’s Health Center in San Miguel. This has been PPN’s most successful means of reaching its remote clientele. In 2013 when the radio program began, 24% percent of the patient population came as a result of learning about PPN’s services on air. By May of this year, the number had grown to 76%.
Not until every child is seen, does the dentist and the van roll on to another community.
Two years ago, Patronato Pro Niños acquired a second van to service the children in villages with Feed the Hungry kitchens. While this helped shorten the lag time for other towns, it isn’t nearly enough. Another van is needed to spread the dental hygiene program into as many more villages as possible. And maybe even another one after that. For most of these children, dental visits do not happen twice a year or even once a year, but at best once every five years. Without Patronato Pro Niños, it is safe to assume that very few of the estimated 44,000 children living in poverty would have any dental care at all.
Recently, an anonymous donor pledged seed money to purchase the third van with matching funds raised from private sources. The push is on not only to secure the funding, but also to have the newest addition to the Patronato Pro Niños fleet ready to go to the schools by early fall.
Back at the PPN’s Children’s Health Center in town, a variety of medical cases are seen. The doctor treats minor cases directly and triages children to specialists and other service providers as needed. The doctor also conducts follow-ups to ensure that the patient is getting the necessary care from outside providers. An in-clinic dentist was added in 2011.
With many cases, Patronato Pro Niños works hand-in-hand with Seguro Popular and DIF to deliver treatments and oversight to facilitate healing and, hopefully, a cure. But not all cases have happy endings.
Karla came to Pro Niños in 2011 with a diagnosis of sarcoma of the spinal cord. For three years, she needed blood transfusions as well as transportation to Leon, both of which were made possible by PPN. When Karla died in January, the organization further helped the family with funeral expenses.
Fernanda has psychomotor delay/retardation and suffers from seizures. Since 2007, PPN has been providing support for her transportation to Leon where she is under the care of a neural pediatrician. PPN also helps pay for her medications which average 2,400 pesos a month.
Two siblings in the Pro Niños extended family have congenital glaucoma, which has been treated with a valve placed in the affected eyes to keep pressure under control. Ultimately the brother and sister will lose their eyesight, but as a result of support from PPN they are beginning to learn Braille and gain independent living skills while they still have partial vision. This is an example of where Patronato Pro Niños bridges gaps in Seguro Popular and DIF programs.
And then there are the success stories such as on the one about Maria Elena, who was born with a cleft lip and palate. Through a partnership with Earthspeak, PPN arranged for Maria Elena and her mother to attend a week-long speech camp in 2012. Within a year, the young girl was evaluated again and found to have speech within normal limits. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up Maria Elena replied she wants to be a pediatrician so she can help other children.
The care Patronato Pro Niños offers or arranges can dramatically change lives and in some cases actually save them. Once a child’s needs have been determined the medical staff works closely with providers – as advocate and funding source – to ensure the child receives the most thorough attention possible. To preserve their dignity and promote parental involvement with necessary follow-up care, families are asked to participate in the cost of their child’s treatments according to their ability. In many cases this contribution amounts to just a few pesos.
After 40 plus years of doing this, Patronato has seen patients from multiple generations of the same family. People trust Patronato. The personal connection, the healthcare services provided, and helping people work with the various government programs is how we have earned that trust.
While Patronato Pro Niños strives throughout the year to raise funds through its walking tours of Historic Centro, it is launching a major fundraising campaign with its 2014 gala, Mediterranean Magic, on Friday, July 18th, at La Hacienda de San Miguel. The event will include cocktails, a Mediterranean Buffet, dancing, plus silent and live auctions. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets are US$125 or 1,500 pesos per person, all inclusive, except auction items. To order tickets, call Lily at 152-7796.
All proceeds will enable Patronato Pro Niños to provide medical and dental care to San Miguel’s neediest children.