Overcoming Logistics Challenges in Accessing Health Services

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 11:14

Yesenia Muñoz is an extroverted and joyful 22 year old woman. Born and raised in Cananea, Sonora, she suffers from chronic kidney failure, which means that none of her kidneys function properly. Unfortunately, the hemodialysis treatment that she needs is not available in her hometown. Therefore, her family had to take her to another town so she could get treated. The long, early-morning bus rides took a toll on Yesenia and her family. With the purpose of helping Yesenia and her family, Grupo Mexico sponsored a program called Camino a la Vida (On the Path to Life). The mission of this initiative is to transport patients to hospitals in nearby cities Hermosillo and Nogales. There, Cananea’s population can receive the specialized medical tests, treatment and care they need. Some of the procedures lacking in Cananea that can be made accessible through this service are dialysis, oncological treatments and preventative mammograms, among others.

Shuttle services are available three days a week, in reasonable and convenient schedules. Grupo Mexico has provided a van which is only used for transporting patients. Because the vehicle is operated by an emergency medical technician, patients are transported not only comfortably but safely. Héctor Padilla, the Medical Emergencies Technician who operates the Camino a la Vida van, proudly boasts over 400 trips, 2,000 assistances and 165,000km at the service of Cananea’s population. The users of this transportation service are charged with a symbolic fee of MX$20, though some people are exempted from payment. The funds raised through this scheme are then destined to finance some of the costs of the San José Daycare Center, which is also located in Cananea.

Camino a la Vida is but one of an extensive collection of social development programs and community relation projects that Grupo Mexico has established in Cananea. The company launched these projects in 2008, with the purpose of generating tangible improvements in the population’s quality of life. To ensure that these programs would solve the most pressing and heartfelt problems of the community, Grupo Mexico carried out a participatory diagnosis that compiled the population’s concerns and suggestions. Thereafter, Grupo Mexico designed its social responsibility strategy with Cananea’s population in mind. The establishment of alliances with civil society groups and NGOs ensured that the programs were the most appropriate and relevant. Moreover, this collaboration strategy produced a respectful and fruitful relationship of co-responsibility between Grupo Mexico and the local groups involved.

Grupo Mexico’s concern about the social wellness of mining communities is centered in fostering a stable, long-term “development with meaning”. This concept stems from the conviction that it is important to satisfy the present’s needs, while at the same time looking towards the future. This philosophy led Grupo Mexico to initiate the construction of a regional hospital in Cananea, in collaboration with Sonora’s local government and Health Ministry. The Cananea Regional Medical Specialties Hospital was planned under a modular concept, which will allow services to expand in accordance with the growth of Cananea’s population. Initially, the hospital will offer 30 beds, in response to current demand. However, all of the hospital’s general services – such as boilers, electrical infrastructure, climate control systems and laundry rooms – are designed to support a capacity of 60 beds.

Moreover, this hospital will be the first one in Mexico that will provide universal assistance. This means that it will receive beneficiaries of the country’s different social security institutions (Seguro Popular, IMSS, ISSSTE), as well as the inhabitants of Cananea and other adjoining communities. The facilities, which will cover an area of over 6,000m2, will be able to offer second-tier specialized medical services such as gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, orthopedics, anesthesia, internal medicine and cardiology. It will be equipped with an operating room, a delivery ward, X-ray equipment, an emergency room, a lab analysis unit, a CT scanner and an ambulance. Additionally, Grupo Mexico has financed and carried out remodeling and extension worksat Cananea’s General Hospital. These improvements include the refurbishment of 1,500m2, as well as the extension of 339m2 at the hospital’s entrance and courtyards.

Yesenia was confined to a wheelchair when she entered the Camino a la Vida program. Nowadays she is able to walk again, thanks to the two hemodialysis treatments that she receives on a weekly basis. Like her, hundreds of inhabitants of Cananea can now access medical treatments that were previously unaffordable or too far away from their homes. This has given them renewed strength, as well as the hope to recover and lead a productive, wholesome life. After the construction of the Cananea Regional Hospital is completed, Grupo Mexico expects that thousands of people will share the same feelings and desires.