Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Graduate of Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine reports on aiding Puerto Rico
Dear Family and Friends,
Puerto Rico (PR) is in need of our help. FEMA, Trump, and the US government are choosing to ignore restoring basic necessities to the people of PR. We need all the support we can get: call Congress, sign petitions, and donate to organizations working for the people of PR. I’ve included ways to contribute in this email, and I want to connect and share about our team's first trip to PR. We supported the organizations Beta Local and Center for Embodied Pedagogy and Action (CEPA). We assisted in health home visits and participated in a health fair and pop up clinic while sharing health services and resources.  Our team had the most phenomenal women who inspired me. They taught me how healing justice work is done.
The founder of CEPA in PR created a beautiful newsletter to thank all of you for your donations, support, and community love. Please click on this link to read. Many thanks to everyone who donated/aided me with 100lbs of supplies including life straws, survival supplies, food, and medical supplies. Special thanks to my family, friend and Spanish teacher in Detroit, her students sent love letters to PR. Also, special thanks to Planned Parenthood Detroit for the donation hours before we left; we shared all these resources and supplies directly to the people. 
I hope we can continue to work together and support our sisters, brothers, children, and elders in PR. It has been over six months since the storm, and they are working incredibly hard to rebuild their lives and communities, which are still in extremely dire circumstances. Many people in PR continue to live without utilities, food, gasoline, or the ability to communicate with loved ones on the island and abroad. We are all interconnected; a pertinent example given from various healthcare professionals that work throughout the US is that many hospitals/clinics (MI, CA, NC, to list a few) are without medical supplies that are manufactured exclusively in PR. 
Puerto Ricans from the hardest-hit communities themselves are doing all the work to rebuild, heal, and help each other. Our team witnessed that all over the island wherever we went: Neighbors helped each other. Family members traveled around the island to help relatives. Everyone suggested taking our donations to people more in need.
We observed dangerous conditions throughout the trip, including even San Juan, the most populated area and economic hub of PR. Power lines, down in the streets, were held up with tables. There were tarps being used as roofs. We saw excessive need for generators along with a lack of electricity for traffic and highway lighting at night.  Many people lack access to clean water and the death toll from Hurricane Maria and its aftermath exceed 1,000. This includes deaths from treatable causes and suicides, which have reached record highs on the island. 
This first trip to PR was an intense and meaningful trip that has further impressed upon me the violent reality of the United States. It disturbingly reminded me how the US government does not prioritize providing basic necessities to everyone who lives in the US, in general and especially during crises. The US government has and continues to demonstrate blatant neglect, racism, and institutional violence toward the people of PR. As people of the US, we must act and help each other when the government refuses to. I hope we can share all the blessings and abundance of love and resources possible. I will forever be positively impacted by the hard work, strength, resilience, kindness, ingenuity, brilliance, power, and warmth of the people we met from the communities of PR.  

US government refuses to restore power to Puerto Rico:

US Naval Hospital Ship, the "Comfort" docked in San Juan was providing a sketchy recovery effort and left abruptly after two months of admitting just 6 people a day:

Below is how to call congress and petitions if you would like participate in those ways:
We want to make sure that Congress makes Puerto Rico a priority in 2018.  Puerto Rico needs fair and equal treatment now.

Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121
 and ask your elected Congressperson and Senators to:
· Provide Puerto Rico with adequate disaster relief funding.
· Increase Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico.
· Since the now-passed tax reform legislation treats Puerto Rico as a foreign jurisdiction, tell Congress they must remedy that immediately as well making tax benefits and incentives like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit available for Puerto Rico's working families.

-PDF of places to support in PR
-Document of ways to contribute
Profound thank you for your attention, support and actions towards working together to create a better world for everyone. Thank you! Sending you all so much love, joy and blessings always! 

Con amor, abrazos, alegría y salud,
With love, hugs, happiness and health,


Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Why Cuban style medicine might help Detroit.

Infant Mortality in Detroit

Despite the existence of high quality, nationally recognized health systems in metropolitan Detroit, the appalling rates of death and racial health disparities among the most vulnerable members of our community - infants - rival that of third-world countries.

The reasons behind these disparate health outcomes are complex, but likely include the absence of a coordinated, public-private effort to link at-risk women to needed medical and social resources in a timely manner. Consequently, the safety net has gaping holes.

The Sew Up the Safety Net for Women and Children (SUSN) program was designed by the Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force to "sew up the safety net" by connecting the right people (at-risk women and neighborhood navigators) to the right places (clinical and social services in or near their neighborhood), at the right time (before women present with poor birth outcomes). The Women Inspired Neighborhood (WIN) Network: Detroit is a part of the SUSN program for the Detroit community.

"The solution to adult problems tomorrow depends in large measure upon how our children grow up today."
       - Margaret Mead, American Anthropologist

While poor access to primary care continues to pose a fundamental challenge, women most at-risk for infant mortality often live in neighborhoods surrounded by underutilized healthcare and social services and other community entities that could support the health and wellbeing of their families. WIN Network: Detroit focuses on three of the city’s neighborhoods: Brightmoor, Chadsey-Condon, and Osborn. Although infant mortality rates are higher in these neighborhoods, residents are surrounded by a strong network of organized services that offer resources, accessible medical care, and assistance for everyday life. Our Community Neighborhood Navigators (CNNs) are based in community centers in each of these areas. WIN Network: Detroit connects women in these neighborhoods to the programs and resources that exist to serve them.

The following table shows the percentage of certain indicators of infant mortality for each of the three neighborhoods that WIN Network: Detroit works in. (Note: Data is from 2006-2008)
Contributors to Infant Death in Detroit:
  • Prematurity and low birth weight - 29%
  • Intermediate or inadequate prenatal care - 61%
  • Less than a 12th grade education - 42%
  • Unintended pregnancy - 30.5%
  • Multiple stressors/social chaos - 21.3%