Donors Help Send Medical Supplies to Oaxaca Health Clinic

We branched out from masking making and distribution last week by raising funds from four donors to buy a Welch-Allyn vital signs monitor for the Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, health clinic. Village volunteer officials contacted me with this special need.

I reached out to readers and received immediate response from Kate Rayner, Toronto, Canada; Claudia Michel, Portland, Oregon; Boojie Cowell, London and Mexico City; and Deborah Morris, M.D., Coates, North Carolina. Debbie advised me on brand and helped make a selection from a hundred or so used models available on eBay.

The vital signs monitor was a big purchase, and we are so grateful to these four women for their generosity to be able to say YES, WE CAN.

This piece of machinery will give doctors the tools to check oxygenation and do continuous monitoring with accurate temperature and blood pressure checks, according to Claudia Michel, who is also an RN. Oxygenation is an essential reading for early detection of Covid-19. When oxygen levels decline, that is a sign there is illness. I have a portable pulse oximeter at home and use it regularly to monitor my own levels.

Mask woven by Arte Textil Orozco and sewn by Stephanie Jeronimo

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We also used funds to purchase gallons of hand sanitizer, isopropyl alcohol and two portable pulse oximeters for the village clinic to take into people’s homes. This is in addition to giving the clinic hundreds more masks to distribute as an official appeal to the village to wear them and keep social distancing.

Yesterday, Moises Garcia Guzman de Contreras picked up 100 more face masks in El Tule for the health officials to distribute to the people of his village, San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya. The masks were the second order I placed with Arte Textil Orozco, the workshop that wove the cloth that was then sewn by Stephanie Jeronimo.

Since Phase II of the The Oaxaca Mask Project started on May 23, 2020, we have ordered, sewn and distributed 1,810 masks. This includes 100% cotton fabric donated by Patrice Wynne, Abrazos San Miguel, and more from Karen Nein in Eldorado, New Mexico.

Moto taxi driver accepts face mask funded by The Oaxaca Mask Project

We’ve sent money via Western Union to mask makers in Oaxaca, San Miguel del Valle, and Teotitlan del Valle. We are also using PayPal to send money because it is fast and direct for those who use it.

Rocio Arecely Garcia Lopez and husband Pedro Hernandez Antonio, Bordados Xime

Bordados Xime, a fancy apron-making workshop in San Miguel, has shifted over to making masks and we are supporting them. We paid for our first order of 100 that will be distributed to the residents of this Zapotec village.

Face masks from Bordados Xime, San Miguel del Valle

The map of Mexico shows RED. There is a high rate of infection everywhere. People are now asking for masks as infection rates rise in Oaxaca. Stay-at-home orders from the Governor are in place until June 15. We have orders out now for 500 more masks that have not yet been paid for.

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News this week is that markets are closed and will only be open on a rotating basis. (Some on a Oaxaca listserv are saying markets are closed for the next 10 days. I’m not there, so I don’t know.) Masks have been required for entry. Officials taking temperatures and requesting shoppers to use hand-sanitizer often.

There are official three-diagnosed Covid-19 cases in Tlacochahuaya. Our mask recipients on Sunday were taxi drivers, moto-taxi drivers, and the general public. Here, too, health officials were grateful to have the masks and participated in distributing them.

Moises, a Zapotec language activist who lived in Santa Monica, California and worked for Verizon before returning home to Tlacochahuaya, tells me that the real issue is testing for all of Oaxaca. “Testing is only performed when symptoms appear, but by that time there have been contacts, and it might be too late.” He is recording a video in Zapotec for his village to explain Covid-19, symptoms and prevention measures.” Testing is run by the epidemiology department of the state government, Moises tells me.

Mask made by Arte Textil Orozco and Stephanie Jeronimo in El Tule

Public health messages are essential for Zapotec communities of the Oaxaca valleys. Many of the older people, those who are most vulnerable, do not speak much if any Spanish, and hearing warnings in their indigenous language is essential.

Thanks to Alan Goodin, a resident of Santiguito (Santiago Ixtaltepec), who picked up face masks today from Cristy Molina Martinez at the crossroads. Alan will give them out to friends and neighbors who need them.

Meanwhile, we are doing what we can, and we know that mask wearing can reduce infection by as much as 80 percent. Masks don’t just filter air. They promote social distancing. Epidemiologists are telling us that this virus will not go away and that to stay safe mask-wearing will be part of life in the foreseeable future.

Now, we hear that Teotitlan is limiting funeral attendance to 10 people and has put up a blockade at the entrance to the village to limit access to people who don’t live there. Yes, there have been funerals. Few people believe they are Covid-19 related; some do. Without tests, there is no proof. We do believe that the doctors who asked for the vital signs monitor understand how this infection is transmitted and want every tool at their disposal for prevention.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for contributing. Thank you for caring.

2 responses to “Donors Help Send Medical Supplies to Oaxaca Health Clinic

  1. A magnificent effort!

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