Thank you for your inquiry about our Cuba trip. This particular trip is very different from any of the other trips with Power of a Nickel. When visiting Cuba several years ago we encountered a wonderful man who owned a travel agency in Cuba. After spending some time with him, he shared the real situation with us about the medical problems in his beloved country. They do not need physicians to come to Cuba… they have the largest medical school in the whole Caribbean and train physicians for deployment throughout the Caribbean and S. America. All physicians (except plastic surgeons) are employed of the government – thus we are not able to work with them. After saying that, there are 2 physicians who are members of churches we will be working with and they are so happy to have us visit. Cuba has a wonderful public health system that perhaps we can learn from. The real problem is that when one of the easily accessed physicians orders a prescription, the prescription is taken to a pharmacy and, sadly, the shelves are empty. Literally empty. The lack of common meds such as aspirin, lisinopril, metformin, on and on… is unbelievable. The meds are not even available on the black market. A small package of Band-Aids is $10US. The need, then, is not for our medical services (although we certainly do give consultations and meds that we have with us, but rather the meds and supplies we take to our hosts. We take our listening and compassion to a wonderful people. We take our enthusiasm for the beauty of their country and their desire for us to enjoy ourselves in their world.
Having explained that difference, the other difference is that Power of a Nickel is a humanitarian organization we embrace those of all different faiths. In Cuba, however, we have partnered with a Christian organization for this destination. The church leaders make all arrangements for the “clinics” that are held in their churches as well as house calls that small teams fan out into the communities and evaluate people that have been identified as needing a consultation or second opinion. Each of these locations for service are accompanied by a church leader who offers prayers or encouragement for the patient. As a healthcare provider, you are not required to participate in the religious portions of those visits – but are certainly welcomed to do so if that is your desire.
Know that regardless of your religious affiliation, you are welcomed and we want you to experience Cuba comfortably. You will be asked to bring with you first aid items, OTC meds, and other health items.
We will work in churches and homes in Havana and in Mantanza. We stay in a hostel in Havana (that means it is a small private “boutique” hotel. The price is based on double occupancy. There may be some single rooms available at an additional cost. We will need to know when you complete your application if you are requesting a single room. In Mantanza we are in a very beautiful colonial hotel, and our experience with the leisure time of Cuba will be at the beach in Varadero, We travel via vans. Breakfasts are included. Two dinners are included. We are at an all inclusive at the beach. Our hosts will be making our specific itinerary – but this is an overview of what to expect. Last year we flew into Havana then returned to the US from the airport near Valadero Beach. As far as team size, our goal is a max of 20. The make up of the team will not be known until we have applications and deposits. We encourage medical and non-medical folks as well. Know that there will be a minimum of one attending physician to 3 medical students.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Barbara Grogg, ARNP, C-FP