May 16th: Four Thunder Bay residents returned from a week of visiting and evaluating needs at medical facilities in Matanzas Cuba. Tom and Janene Baxter, volunteers with MEMO (Medical Equipment Modernization Opportunity) and their daughter Anna, a TBRHSC ICU Registered Nurse, accompanied Dr. Jerome Harvey to Matanzas, Cuba; each paying their own expenses. The purpose of the trip was to ensure that medical-surgical supplies previously sent by MEMO had arrived at their intended destination and to determine current medical needs that MEMO might be able to meet.
It was so encouraging to see hospital beds donated by St Joseph’s Hospital being used in the pediatric ICU of the Matanzas Children’s Hospital where desperately ill little ones, many on ventilators were being cared for. The beds provide a work surface for nurses as they provide complex medical care for these children. The blood bank refrigerator from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is being used continuously. Furnishings and medical equipment from the now closed LPH site provide comfort and convenience for patients and their families.
The team carried four suitcases of critical supplies including surgical head lamps, sophisticated sutures for repairing cleft lip and palate, tiny nasogastric tubes for babies who are unable to swallow and much more. Thank you West Jet, for free humanitarian baggage allowance.
During the past tourist season over 30 tourists carried thousands of ostomy dressings to Varadero. The MEMO team was able to visit the recipients in their homes and see how their social lives have been returned to them by caring Thunder Bay people.
Finally, a visit to the Matanzas Home for the Aged showed the deplorable state the nurses cope with as they care for the elderly. MEMO hopes to address some of these needs in a container being shipped to Matanzas on June 22nd.
To be a part of this exciting and satisfying caring experience, go to <memoministry.org> for information on how to help.