In partnership with the Ophtamology Clinic of Cartagnea and the Optometry & Ophthamology departments of the Sinu University, we were able to host our first Ophthalmology outreach in Bocachica this weekend!
We consider it an honor to serve the Lord by serving the community of Bocachica! What a privilege it is to be a part of realizing this dream of founding a medical clinic in Bocachica! Our desire is to continue to grow, improve and expand in the variety and quality of services we are able to offer the community and to treat our patients with love, understanding and dignity.
From the very beginning we also dreamed about the clinic being a source of employment for the community. So it is especially satisfying for us to see that half of our clinic personnel are Bocachica natives. They have served beside us sacrifically and joyfully and we are so thankful to have them on our team!
Three of our staff are YWAM missionaries: Esther and Elisabeth, our doctors, and Erika, our dentist. Like all YWAMers, they are volunteers and are responsible for raising-up their own missionary support team to cover their personal expenses. However, if the financial situation of the clinic were to allow for remuneration some day in the future, we would love to be able to bless them in this way.
Sharing the desire and vision to get the clinic up and running, the other clinic employees have all agreed to start working without recieving a full salary. Some of them recieve about half of the minimum wage (minimum wage in Colombia is about $11/day) and some of them recieve even less than that. Our hope and goal is to be able to pay each of our employees a fair and going wage for the position that they fill.
Now that the clinic is legally registered with the Colombian government, we are held accountable by several different government entities such as:
DIAN – This is comparable to the IRS and they are resposible for overseeing everything related to our accounting and taxes.
SUPERSALUD – This is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing the management of the entities that finance the health system. Every 6 months we must file a report of the clinic’s activity and pay a fee.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH – They direct the Colombian health system and are responsible for the protection and promotion of public health, as well as providing welfare and other social services. We must file periodic reports with their office that relate to things such as quality assurance and billing.
DADIS – The entity responsible for overseeing licensing and accreditation based on standards regarding human resources, equipment & supplies, emergency procedures, medical records, drugs, infrastructure, and other services.
SISMED: With them we must file reports documenting the sale and purchase of medicines.
There are many things that we are required by law to pay for, such as medical coverage, workman’s compensation, and a pension plan for each of our employees. For clinic operations we are required by the health department to pay for an array of contracts to cover ongoing services such as: regular revision, calibration, and maintenance of biomedical equipment (approx. $75/month); collection and disposal of biohazardous materials and waste contaminated by human secretions (about $120/month); fumigation and pest control (approx. $40/month); supply of medical grade soaps and gels (approx. $40/month); fire extinguisher maintenance (approx. $50/month); and accounting & bookkeeping (approx. $180/month).
After our first two months in operation, we estimate that once we are able to pay our employees a full salary, our monthly operational expenses will be about $3000 usd. This covers such things as salaries, utilities, maintenance and contracts.
Our estimated monthly income, however, is only around $1400 usd. This income comes from our fees for medical and dental consultations and procedures, laboratory exams, and pharmacy sales. Currently we are charging very minimal prices for our services because we want them to be as accessible to our community as possible. For example the price range for dental procedures is between approximately $1.50 and $4.00; the price range for medical procedures is approximately .50 cents to $5.00; the price of a consultation with the doctor is about $3.50.
Earlier this year we were blessed with a large and generous donation designated towards helping to get the clinic up and running. With these funds we were able to get all of the remaining construction details taken care of, as well as budget for our start-up costs and cover the first six months of our operations. Starting in 2017, we will need to procure additional financial support to keep the clinic running. Our goal is to be able to make contracts with the government and/or private health providers who are subsidized by the Colombian government to provide healthcare to the poor. There are local companies who offer health coverage to a portion of the population of Bocachica however their patients must travel to Cartagena to recieve medical attention. If we are successful in getting these contracts, the health providers would give us partial remuneration for attending to the needs of those Bocachica residents who are enrolled in their companies. The income from these contracts would cover our expenses plus give us some extra income to be able to invest in further equipping the clinic, enabling us to improve the quality and variety of the services we are able to offer to the community.
Until we are able to acquire some of these contracts, we will need to find a way to cover our expenses privately. For this reason, we would like to present you with the opportunity to become a clinic sponsor. You can help us by becoming a one-time donor or a monthly supporter of our clinic. Your donations are tax deductible and they will go directly towards keeping the clinic in operation and blessing the community of Bocachica!
It’s easy! All you have to do is:
- Make a check payable to: YWAM
- Attach a separate note that says: “For Proyecto Libertad’s Clinic Ministry in Colombia”
- Mail to: YWAM Donor Services; P.O. Box 3000; Garden Valley, TX 75771-3000
- If you would like to set up an automatic withdrawal and receive a tax deductible receipt, click HERE and scroll down to read the instructions.
- Email us initially to let us know that you want to sponsor the clinic so we can be sure your donations get allocated properly.
For more details regarding sending support, please click HERE. If you are not from the USA and would like to sponsor the clinic, please click HERE for more information or email us and we can let you know the best way to send funds.
This whole process of getting the clinic in operation has been a team effort and we know it will continue to be a team effort to keep it in operation. Please consider partnering with us in this endeavor.
To experience more of this 15 year journey, click HERE!
After 15 years of dreaming, planning, working, and persevering, we were finally able to see the dream become reality and enjoy the fruit of years of labor.
Therefore… stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
… You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful…you will be!
Psalm 128:2 (NLT)
We are so blessed and thankful to have a great pioneering team to operate the clinic on a day-to-day basis.
Erika is our dentist and she treats patients Wednesday and Thursday mornings. In addition, Erika has been a part of Proyecto Libertad’s team for the last 14 years and has served as the mission director in Bocachica since 2008.
Luz Neira is a Bocachica native and a long time friend of our Proyecto Libertad family. She is in charge of cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the clinic as well as properly disposing of clinic waste materials according to the governmental requirements.
Zuly, from Bocachica, is our pharmacy assistant who mans the clinic pharmacy from Monday through Friday.
Clara Ines, also from Bocachica, was enrolled in Proyecto Libertad’s child sponsorship program. After graduating from high school she studied and trained to be a nursing assistant and we are thrilled to have her on our team!
Katrina, from Bocachica and a child sponsorship graduate, is the dental hygienist who assists Erika with all of her patients on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Katrina has been assisting Erika as a volunteer at the mission for the last couple of years, even before the clinic was opened. In addition to dentistry, Katrina also helps with clinic administrative duties.
Marlaine, another Bocachica native and child sponsorship graduate, is our clinic receptionist. Marlaine’s childhood home is next door to the mission so our families have been neighbors for the last 19 years! It was always a dream of ours to be able to see graduates of our child sponsorship program working at the clinic some day, so it is very special for us to have Clara Ines, Katrina, and Marlaine working with us!
Esther is our medical doctor and clinic administrator. She has played a vital role in getting the clinic legally registered, approved and opened. Esther has invested untold hours and many late nights in order to help make the clinic’s opening and operation a reality!
Unfortunately a couple of people were missing the day this photo was taken. Not pictured above but also very much part of the team are:
Elisabeth , who is currently visiting family, friends and supporters in her homeland of Norway. She is a general practitioner and treats patients Wednesdays through Fridays. God sent Elisabeth to us at a time when we really needed someone to help hold up our arms (Ex. 17:12)! In addition to treating patients over the last two years, she also played a big role in helping with all of the official paperwork (manuals, procedures, contracts, etc…) in preparation for the clinic’s registration with the Health Department.
Maira, from Cartagena, is our pharmacist. She comes out to the island once every other week to oversee and supervise the pharmacy operations.
We are humbled, excited, and thankful to announce that on July 20th the clinic officially and legally opened it’s doors to serve the community of Bocachica. July 20th, 2016 will be a day that goes down in history for all of us here at Proyecto Libertad.
We are so encouraged to share the news and to thank each person who participated in making this dream a reality. From the donor who helped us buy the property back in 2001, the youth group who helped clear the land, the countless staff, volunteers, and donors who participated over the last 15 years by working, praying and funding; the community of Bocachica…from small children to strong young men, middle-aged housewives and elderly grandma’s…who helped unload sand and cement, hauled building supplies, made cement blocks by hand, stuccoed and painted, who helped with every phase of construction, who cheered us on and kept encouraging us even when things looked grim and we wondered if this day would ever come. To the teams who have come and invested their time, resources and expertise in making this dream become a reality. To those key people who spent untold hours pouring over paperwork, creating operating manuals and safety manuals, filling out forms and applications; studying, researching and getting everything officially and legally ready for our inspection by the Health Department; and to our pioneering team of clinic staff who are dedicated to serving the community day in and day out! This has been a team effort and so many have invested a piece of themselves! There are too many names to name and we would fall way short if we tried.
We thank the Lord for not letting us give up; for His protection, keeping everyone safe during this whole 15 year process; for sending so many people to help in so many ways; for providing finances and resources at each step; for correcting us when we were wrong, for picking us up when we stumbled, for encouraging us to persevere, and for teaching us so many lessons about life, service, and faith throughout this whole process. We thank Him for giving us the privilege of serving Him and for allowing us to see the dream come true.
After witnessing and experiencing His faithfulness through it all, we know can stand firm and trust that He will continue to be with us as we learn to walk out this new phase of the dream. We know there will be new challenges to face, more mistakes to grow and learn from, and bigger mountains to climb. But we know that we are not alone.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
A little walk down memory lane:
THE CALM AFTER THE STORM…CELEBRATING WITH A STROLL TO THE BEACH!
We are elated to share the news about how everything went yesterday with the visit by the Health Department!
You know, God always answers our prayers! Sometimes he says, “No”. Sometimes he says “Wait”. Sometimes he says “Yes!” And then sometimes he says “Yes, and here’s a little something extra!!”
Yesterday was a big “Yes and here’s something extra!!” kind of day!
Two days ago we posted a special request for prayer! We said, “…wouldn’t it be awesome if there were no corrections or changes to make and we could get fast-tracked to our final approval?!! PRAY CHURCH!!!!!!!” – Well, you must have been praying because that is basically just what happened!!
A group of 8 representatives from the Health Department arrived to Bocachica yesterday around 9am. Some of our staff met them at the dock and made the trek back through the community towards the clinic. As they walked, they took in the sights, sounds and smells of daily life in Bocachica. They kept wondering and asking, “So, where is this place?” until they finally rounded the corner, saw the white building on the hill, and were met by our team and a welcome with fresh fruit and cold drinks.
Right away there was a very pleasant atmosphere and rapport felt between our staff and the inspectors. They were interested and intrigued to hear the story of the ministry and the 15 year journey required to bring us to this moment. (Yes, you read that correctly! We bought the land in 2001 and have been working, planning and dreaming ever since!) They were taken aback by the story of all the years of struggle, set-backs, and hard work; all the money donated, all the volunteers who labored, all the prayers prayed, and all the years of perseverance invested. Later in the day they shared that in all their years of experience in this job, they had never seen a case like ours where such effort and care were given and such an investment of resources was made NOT FOR PROFIT, but TO BLESS!
As the day continued, each aspect of the clinic was inspected. They reviewed our facilities, our manuals, our contracts, and our procedures; they questioned and interviewed our staff about everything from the process of construction to the plans for patient care. Something that our staff especially appreciated was the fact that they came not with a spirit of judging and pointing out our flaws but with the spirit of helping, guiding, and advising us. It was evident that they wanted to help us succeed, not prevent us from doing so!
As they went along they made suggestions about things that would be helpful and beneficial to us and to our patients. Most of their recommendations were about things that we already realized we needed to do and had planned to do at some point. For example, we still need to finish the construction of the handrails that go around the front of the building; we need to put some type of awning or trellis over the entry patio to provide shade; we need a sink here and a door there, etc…
After the inspection was over everyone made their way back to the mission for lunch. The group of inspectors met by themselves for a while as they discussed and sorted through their recommendations. Then they called our team over to give them their official report. Since we knew that this was a preliminary visit, we expected to be given a time-frame to make the needed corrections before the final inspection. But, to our surprise and delight, we were met with the news that they had decided and declared that we were ready and prepared to open our doors for service! They approved our facilities and commended us for our motivations and intentions. We passed the inspection and were fast-tracked to legalization!! Over the next two days we will make a couple of visits to the Health Department to sign paperwork and pick up our registration documents and as of tomorrow, May 26, 2016, we are legally registered and approved by the Colombian government!! We are planning to officially open our doors for service on June 6th! (Update: It actually took longer than we expected to finish up the last preparations. We officially opened on July 20, 2016.)
We can’t even begin to express in words the flood of joy, relief, and gratefulness we are experiencing right now!! We were all brought to tears just taking in the wonder of this moment! There were so many times in this journey that we felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and discouraged but by the very grace of God we had the humbling privilege of experiencing this moment of victory and fulfillment yesterday. We give all the glory and thanks to God because without Him it would have been impossible for us to make it through!
Now we will face a new and different set of challenges such as keeping the clinic staffed and financed and walking out our long-time vision to bless the community with access to quality health-care in an atmosphere of care and dignity and to be instruments of God’s love. We trust that the Lord will guide, teach, correct, and help us every step of the way.
There will be a follow-up inspection in a few months, after the clinic is in operation. The next time it will be a different group of inspectors and they will be evaluating how well we are able to put all of the “theory” of our operation and procedures manuals into action. They will evaluate for example, how well we follow through on the policies we have established regarding the cleanup, decontamination and disposal of a body fluid spill; how we handle life and death situations; or how we follow the guidelines for lab collection services. It will be a new season of learning, growing and persevering.
God has been speaking to us lately about the principles of planting and harvesting. We have experienced the pain of seeing dreams die and then the joy of seeing God revive and renew them (John 12:24). We have experienced first hand the truth behind Psalms 125:5: “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” And we have witnessed and lived 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 which says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” We know the road ahead will require more planting and watering and weeding! But we also know from the experience of the last decade and a half that God, in His own time, in His own way, and for His own purposes, will produce the fruit and give the growth… in our individual lives, and in the work we do.
We have learned that God doesn’t NEED us. He GIVES us the amazing and awesome PRIVILEGE of learning to listen, discern and obey His voice and in the process we experience the JOY of being used by Him, in spite of our flaws, weaknesses and failures.
Well, folks, as I type the Health Department officials are visiting our site in Bocachica. The news so far is that things are going well and they are giving suggestions. When we hear more we will give you the update.
In the meantime thank you for remembering our team in prayer. Here is a breakdown of what everyone is in charge of presenting to the officials today so you can pray for them by name:
Believe it or not today we had a broken pipe with water everywhere! So the team has been scrambling to get everything repaired, cleaned up and ready for inspection tomorrow! After a long and hard days work, we are finally ready. We have done everything that we know how to do and many have prayed and played a part in getting us to this point. We rest in the knowledge that everything is in the Lord’s hands and we trust that He has a purpose for everything that He allows.
We ask you to please hold us in prayer, especially over the next two days as we are finalizing all the details for our first official visit by the Health Department which is scheduled for TOMORROW!! This is supposed to be a preliminary visit where they point out any flaws or errors we have with the clinic requirements (design, construction, contracts, operation manuals, etc…) and then gives us the opportunity to make corrections before the official inspection. But wouldn’t it be awesome if there were no corrections or changes to make and we could get fast-tracked to our final approval?!! PRAY CHURCH!!!!!!!
The team in Bocachica has been working so hard to get everything lined up for our upcoming inspection by the Health Department! This has required many hours of research, paperwork, creating manuals, personnel files, signing contracts and more!
One of our most recent victories was the installation of a new transformer which will be able to handle the electric load that the clinic will produce. Perhaps where you are from all you have to do in a case like ours is to turn in a request to the local electric company and they take care of the rest. Here we have to hire the electrician, purchase the transformer and all the supplies needed for the installation, get everything officially approved, arrange and hire a barge to carry everything out to the island, arrange, hire, and transport the forklift, hire the workers, provide meals and so goes the list. But THANK THE LORD, we were finally able to see this looming task accomplished! We thank the Lord for His provision of finances, contacts, strength and grace to see it through!