Guest submission by June Mathews
Three Rotary clubs and Positive Choices Pregnancy Center are partnering in an initiative to improve prenatal care for expectant mothers in underserved areas in and around Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Co-sponsors of the project are lead club Trussville Noon Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Homewood, and the Escandon Rotary Club of C. Victoria.
Plans for the two-phase project call for establishing prenatal clinics in C. Victoria and surrounding communities. The second phase is a course co-sponsored by UAB Dept. Of Obstetrics “Advanced Obstetrics Life Support” for midwives, delivering physicians, delivery nurses, as well as medical and nursing students.
The project stems from the Trussville Noon club’s international emphasis, Rotary Partners in Health, led by Dr. Hugh Brindley, a local oral and maxillofacial surgeon, in partnership with Mega Missions of Oneonta. Brindley has been traveling to Ciudad Victoria one or two times a year since 2009 to care for impoverished patients and prison inmates dealing with a myriad of medical issues.
His concern for expectant mothers and their unborn babies has grown with each visit since learning from a Escandon Rotary meeting program several years ago that the second leading cause of death of women in Mexico is death in childbirth. This mostly preventable statistic is largely due to the lack of prenatal care, lack of current knowledge and monitoring technology.
“For the past 14 years of week-long medical/dental trips providing care for over 12,000 patients, we were burdened with the fact that our efforts didn’t always bring about lasting improvements in the lives of the Mexican people,” said Brindley. “The prenatal care project is a new beginning to bring hope of lasting improvement in the lives of women and children of northeastern Mexico.”
According to Sharon Stauffer, executive director of Positive Choices Pregnancy Resource Center and past president of the Trussville Noon Rotary, “The process of locating prenatal equipment to the mission area has already begun, and things have been falling into place in such a way that ‘supernatural’ is the only explanation.”
For example, when Stauffer heard Dr. Brindley explain that there was a great need for ultrasound technology for the Mexico project, she was able to immediately offer help.
It so happened that the 10-year-old ultrasound machine at Positive Choices had recently been replaced by a new model, leaving the older, gently used equipment available for further use. Donating it will allow the Mexico clinics to better treat the underprivileged population they serve. “It can be used in several different ways to ensure the health of mothers and babies, and it hasn’t seen heavy use,” said Lesa Lambert, a registered nurse with Positive Choices. “We’re so thankful that we’ve found somewhere it can be helpful.”
Another need was filled when Brindley spoke at the Rotary Club of Homewood about his ongoing involvement in the Mexico mission. During his presentation, he listed prenatal care as a concern, and specifically, a lack of fetal monitors. The visit resulted in a partnership between the Homewood and Trussville Noon clubs in furnishing a total of eight fetal delivery monitors for the mission project.
“Our past president, Gregg Wadsworth, had expressed a desire during his year for us to do a grant project internationally,” said Jennifer Kyle, the current president of the Homewood club. “When Hugh spoke at our club, we realized that this would fit in perfectly with what Gregg had envisioned doing.”
The president of the Trussville Noon Rotary is Brindley’s wife, Carole, who has long supported her husband’s efforts to render medical care for people in need.
“Every one of the 14 years Trussville Noon Rotary has participated in the Mexico medical project has been a joy and a blessing,” she said, “from gathering a plethora of medical equipment and medicines to providing clothing for orphans and children in poverty, shoes for children and adults living at the basura (city dump), sunhats and children’s toys. None of this would have been possible without Rotary grants, networking with other Rotary clubs and the support of our club membership.”