Perfect Antidote to the Pandemic!

Juan Manuel Tovar Valdez

Today I met one of the kindest, happiest and most inspirational people I’ve met in eons. I’ve also figured out how to make this Christmas merry. My hope is that you will choose to join with Yolanda Medina (from the Chicken Breakfast and DIF) and me to help Juan Manuel Tovar Valdez and his father, Rodolfo in a project we are calling, “A Home for Juan Manuel.”

Juan Manuel is a 34-year old young man who smiles from ear to ear. Diabetic since birth (he was diagnosed at two years of age), his health took a huge turn for the worse three years ago. Training as a graphic designer, his heart broke when he began to lose his sight. Renal failure then took one of his legs. Now legally blind in both eyes and walking on one leg with crutches, there is a joyful glint in Juan Manuel’s eyes and his words are all upbeat. “The sun feels so good on my face! It’s really nice to be outside in the fresh air,” he told me as he stood, masked and on crutches, this afternoon in front of the home the father and son rent in Pradera Dorada. 

DIF Certificate of Disability

Cute, colorful government-built concrete townhomes from the outside, there isn’t much inside: a sitting room, bedroom where both men sleep, and a kitchen/bath. Their main furniture is a plastic patio table and two chairs. Rodolfo, 63 years of age, normally sells funeral services door to door. COVID-19 has put a stop to that, and he finds it increasingly difficult to buy the diapers and medicines that Juan Manuel needs, in addition to food and rent. Juan Manuel’s mother died from breast cancer 21 years ago. Their younger son, married with two children, lives nearby and contributes money to his brother and father every Saturday. But it’s not enough. They pay 1200 pesos/month rent, and receive 1300 pesos/month disability plus 500 pesos/month from DIF. “We have been gifted a vacant lot in Colonia San Antonio. There, if we build a simple room to live in, we won’t have to pay rent. The savings will help so much!” Rodolfo tells me. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Rodolfo has been working for months to pay the electric and water bills on the new lot, so that as soon as he can get the funds together, the pair can build a 6-meter by 3-meter (194 square feet) room to live in. “But, Don Rodolfo, here now you have a home with a bedroom, living room and kitchen. Why do you want to build a much smaller home?” “Because we can’t keep paying rent. I can’t do that and pay the bills. Now that we have been gifted a lot on which to build, that’s the wiser choice for us going forward.”

Meeting Juan Manuel today brought me so much joy! How can I be frustrated with being shut inside when this young man—with his whole life ahead of him—had the professional skills he worked so hard for robbed from him, his eyesight and his leg taken, and he’s still happy? “I love to draw. I can draw in every medium except paint; I never mastered that. And I love baseball. I played center field. Now I’m a passionate fan, listening on the radio.” 

 

My personal hope is that you all will be so generous that Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo will be able to build a home bigger than 18 square meters. Fortunately building a simple home here is very reasonably priced. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to help. Reality is that the father and son will be over the moon happy with their new room. “We already have electricity, and I’ve been paying our share of water to Maestra Zulema in Colonia San Antonio. In our room we can have a small kitchen as well as a bath. We can live and sleep in the same room,” Rodolfo explained to me. 

Yolanda has worked to obtain a list of the materials and labor needed to build the one-room home. If you are able and see fit, won’t you donate to help these men out?

“A Home for Juan Manuel” Budget

1500 Bricks ($2800 millar)

$4200

15 Kilos of annealed wire ($40/kg)

$525

Bags of mortar ($150/each)

$3000

10 Bags of cement ($195/each)

$1950

1 Cart of sand

$1900

1 Cart of gravel (6 meters)

$2000

10 Pieces concrete reinforcement mesh ($170)

$1700

30 x 3/8 rods ($130/each

$3900

Rent of concrete formwork

$2000 (pending confirmation) 

Concrete mixer

(Pending confirmation once the walls are up)

Materials Subtotal

$21,175

 

 

Labor

$18,000

 

 

Grand total

$39,175 pesos (approx. $2000 USD or $2500 Canadian)

Together we can do this, folks! We can make 2021 brighter for Juan Manuel and Rodolfo, and for ourselves! Giving and helping out do the heart and soul good! To donate, you have several options:

  • Click the “Donate” link in the right-hand column on this VidaMaz.com website, and pay via PayPal.
  • Go to any OXXO and donate to BanCoppel account 4169-1603-7041-0699 (photo below) in the name of Yolanda Medina.

  • Canadians who prefer to email money can send it to Jeanette Leraand: jleraand@gmail.com
  • Contact Yolanda via WhatsApp at 669 431 4529 to arrange a time to meet and give her your donation.
  • Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com and I’ll pick up your donation.

COVID Update Mazatlán 2

0a8e9588-fdf1-4599-aa96-304b31832dadI believe it’s time for an update on COVID-19 here in Mazatlán. I have been working so hard to help out and these posts take time, but I realize getting information to you is overdue. Our economies need to reopen; our people need to work to support their families. My hope is we can do so sanely, smartly, wisely, effectively.

Throughout this crisis, official figures and those reported on the ground by medical professionals have differed significantly. Doctors at our three public hospitals tell me they estimate 1000 people in Mazatlán are currently infected with COVID-19, and of that number 800 are asymptomatic. We need to take care, please; even if you are not sick, please shelter at home if you can, wear a mask when you are out and maintain a safe distance from others.

From the perspective of our public hospitals and their medical staff (ISSSTE, IMSS and the new General Hospital), we are in a horrendous crisis. The federal government has us at MAXIMUM RISK right now. While fortunately in Mazatlán we have had enough beds and equipment, the new General Hospital, for example, tells me they are running with only 30% of their normal medical staff! And during a crisis, when you’d think it would be all hands-on deck! Such under-staffing is due to some staff being infected, but more to people quitting, refusing to come to work, or taking leave and citing pregnancy or underlying conditions. There is too much work, the stress levels are through the roof, medical workers are scared, and they are dropping out in droves. The reason so many medical professionals refuse to work is because they do not have the personal protective equipment (PPEs) they need to stay safe and healthy. Their work also requires them to live separately from their families during this pandemic, if they are able, or to risk infecting loved ones if they are not careful.

The new General Hospital is running with only 30% of their normal medical staff.

Yes, I agree with many of you: the federal, state and municipal governments should be providing that gear to public hospitals. I suppose they are doing their best; it’s not my role to comment. The bottom line is that our medical staff do not have the protective gear they need. I ask them to take photos of the staff with the gear we provide them, as proof to all of you that your money goes directly to helping them. In nearly every photo taken there is at least one person without appropriate gear, risking his/her life for our welfare. It is heartbreaking.

So many of you have been doing amazing and wonderful work during this time to help out our local community. Local businesses are donating protective equipment, food and money. Many individuals have donated to Mazatlán Comparte, a volunteer position I’ve held nearly full-time for the past six weeks—100% of those donations go to buy either food for the Food Bank or medical supplies for our local public hospitals. Many of you are making masks, face shields or desk shields and donating them to those who need them, which is terrific. Others are helping out at shelters or feeding the needy. Whatever you are doing, bless you, bless you, bless you. And if you can do more, please do. Now is the time. Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

This crisis has brought out the best and the worst in people. For each of you who is feeding the needy, we see a grandmother kicked out of her home because her family doesn’t want to nurse her or become infected, or a single woman forced to leave her own home in a wealthy community because, instead of offering to bring their neighbor food and medical supplies, her neighbors “want to be able to walk their dogs freely without fear of contagion.” Today the first baby with COVID is in IMSS Mazatlán, but she is fortunately doing well.

How much PPE (Personal Protective Equipment for medical professionals) is needed?
A few generous people who have donated money to Mazatlán Comparte ask me, “surely you have enough equipment now?” Let me try to explain the insatiable appetite of Personal Protective Equipment. EACH medical professional on a DAILY BASIS needs:

  • 1 KN95 mask
  • 10 pairs of nitrile gloves
  • 10 pairs of latex gloves
  • 1 surgical gown
  • 1 pair of boot covers
  • 1 coverall (now we are buying reusable ones which can last up to 5 days)

Obviously, that’s quite a bit of needed gear. In one week, a medical professional will need six KN95 masks, 60 pairs of gloves, six surgical gowns and one coverall.

But the real problem comes in the quantity of people at each hospital who interact with COVID patients and thus need PPEs. At our IMSS General Hospital Zone 3, for example, on a daily basis 199 medical staff interact with COVID patients and need PPEs! That number includes 43 doctors, 97 nurses, 10 assistants, 11 social workers, 15 janitors, 12 stretcher-bearers and 11 triage doctors. That means that just ONE of our THREE main public hospitals here in town on a DAILY basis requires:

  • 200 KN95 masks
  • 2000 pairs of nitrile gloves
  • 2000 pairs of latex gloves
  • 200 surgical gowns
  • 200 pairs of boot covers
  • 200 coveralls

The new General Hospital tells me they need PPEs daily for 110 professionals who attend COVID patients. ISSSTE hospital needs PPEs for 190 professionals daily. That’s a total of 500 medical professionals who DAILY need PPEs to treat current COVID patients here in Mazatlán; the quantities are untenable.

Every day in Mazatlán’s public hospitals, 500 medical professionals need PPEs to treat COVID patients.

To put this all into perspective, with your very generous help, in April and May Mazatlán  Comparte supported local medical staff with donations of:

  • 820 KN95 masks
  • 190 coveralls
  • 37 pairs of boot covers
  • 36 boxes of 250 nitrile gloves (4500 pairs)

Today we will purchase 500 additional KN95 masks at the miraculous price right now of 104 pesos each. These donations are wonderful! There is no doubt they have saved lives. And yet, from a larger perspective, they are a sad drop in the bucket. The longer this pandemic continues, the more PPE is needed; it’s insatiable. That’s why we need to keep the curve from spiking by reopening wisely and doing what each of us can to prevent the spread of the virus.

Difficulties/Challenges with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs)
Last time I shared with you how challenging it has been to help. Prices of many PPEs have skyrocketed, due both to demand and to greed/price-gouging (surgical gowns normally cost 30 pesos and now are up to 160 pesos each with IVA). Many of the PPEs for sale are counterfeit and won’t work properly, so we require vigilance at every step of the purchase process and verification of every shipment upon receipt by medical professionals. Finally, the PPEs can be very difficult to find, though thankfully over the past weeks that has eased a bit. We now have a stable of trusted providers who are dedicated to selling us verified protective equipment at fair prices; let’s hope that continues. The problem is that prices of some needed items can skyrocket, or become unavailable, so it’s always a challenge. And the needs vary, too, as material is received from federal, state and municipal authorities. At Mazatlán Comparte we give the PPEs that the hospitals most need at the moment to the hospitals that are most in need. During a week ISSSTE might receive a shipment of coveralls and not need them for a couple of weeks, while IMSS might be in desperate need of masks that we can provide.

The second challenge has been in getting the PPEs to those in need. Unbelievably, especially in the beginning, there were medical professionals who resold some of the donations received (none of Mazatlán Comparte’s, thanks to careful teamwork), or handed them out to their friends at work rather than just to those working with COVID patients. At Mazatlán Comparte, we have team members from the IMSS, ISSSTE and new General Hospitals who are in charge of COVID professionals and who ensure the PPEs we provide are used for exactly the purpose intended.

Protect a Medical Professional for One Week: 2500 pesos. That amount will purchase everything that person needs for a week of work: hooded, reusable coverall, KN95 masks, nitrile and latex gloves, surgical gowns and boot covers.

How Can You Help?

  1. Please wear a mask when you are out and about, as the government recommends. This protects you and those around you. Please wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
  2. Please do not use medical grade equipment for non-medical uses! Using medical-grade overalls and KN95 face masks to spray bleach on the malecón or to sanitize cars is overkill and deprives our medical personnel of vital material. Neither is required for day-to-day use by normal people like you and me. If you have medical-grade material, please consider donating it to a hospital.
  3. Maintain social distance as the government recommends. Stay vigilant that the bank you go to, the restaurant you’re visiting, are following sanitary protocols and, if not, get out of there.
  4. Reach out to neighbors who are alone; offer to bring them what they might need.
  5. Stay calm and centered; don’t give in to fear. This is a virus; an infection is very painful, but what we are doing is trying to prevent the curve from spiking. We want to reopen our economies, resume our lives, but let’s do so smartly.
  6. Donate: Mazatlán Comparte has systems in place to ensure that the PPEs we buy are functional. We also get better prices, due to buying in quantity and coordinating amongst multiple hospitals and cities. KN95 masks, for example, have varied in price to us from between 121 and 71 pesos per mask, while they tend to be much costlier on the open market. We buy reusable medical-grade hooded coveralls for 350 pesos each; again, much higher on the open market.

Protect a Medical Professional Campaign
Mazatlán Comparte has a new campaign: Protect a Medical Professional. There are several options. The amounts below will purchase everything that person needs for a week of work: hooded, reusable coverall, KN95 masks, nitrile and latex gloves, surgical gowns and boot covers. Remember that just in Mazatlán’s public hospitals, we need PPEs for 460 medical professionals every week!

  • For one month: 10,000 pesos
  • For one week: 2500 pesos

Or, you can help by donating smaller amounts. A week of the following for one medical professional:

  • Surgical gowns: 1120 pesos
  • KN95 masks: 700 pesos
  • Reusable hooded coverall: 350 pesos

Or, one surgical gown and a pair of boot covers (for one professional for one day): 200 pesos

To donate for medical gear: Donate to Hospice Mazatlán, I.A.P. with the comment “Mazatlán Comparte” to distinguish that your donation goes to combat COVID-19. http://www.hospicemazatlan.org/donativos/

To donate food: Donate to Banco De Alimentos Mazatlán Iap with the comment “Mazatlán Comparte” to indicate that your donation go to COVID-19 relief. https://www.paypal.me/BAMXMAZATLAN

Other Ideas
Mazatlán Comparte is also thinking to do a series of online auctions. That could be fun for everyone involved. Might you have a skill that you could share? Say, cooking a gourmet dinner for four people, and we will deliver it to the purchaser? Or maybe your company could donate something it provides? Cases of wine, kilograms of coffee, boxes of frozen shrimp and scallops? If you do, please let me know.

Bless you all! I know many retired folks are on fixed incomes and find it difficult to help. Many of you help friends and family. Whatever you do, thank you! I pray you stay healthy and well, and that as a community we become stronger together!

Help the Homeless

Flyer_AmigosSanJosemaría_2020_PRINT_Page_1There are so many people in Mazatlán reaching out in awesome ways to help their neighbors. One of them is Amparo López, of the Albergue San Josémaría. The shelter feeds hundreds every day and provides temporary housing for to up to 15 people. They have three locations: the cafeteria, a house at Melchor Ocampo 523 downtown, and a home for the elderly and mentally ill.

Amparo called me today asking for help. The house on Melchor Ocampo is at over-capacity with 16 people residing there right now, and two more people arrived today asking for a place to stay. She desperately needs another home to house people in during this crisis, as she doesn’t want to force people onto the streets. If you have a home available, please won’t you reach out? Her phone number is 669-123-3539. The house can be completely empty; she has cots, sheets and pillows. It can be located anywhere in Mazatlán.

Amparo is also desperately requesting used men’s clothing. Any clothing will help, but she is especially needing men’s. And, of course, your donation of tortillas, eggs, any sort of food or money, will help, too. Flyer_AmigosSanJosemaría_2020_PRINT_Page_2I know many of my posts lately have been about helping out. I’m sorry about that. It is insane how many people are unemployed and hungry right now. It’s our time to help if we can. Thank you all and bless you!

117919b2-bf4d-4332-8623-1124e486d324

Helping During the Crisis

Collaborators

The great news today? With your help we were able to purchase 50 sets of medical grade hooded and booted coveralls, along with N95 certified medical grade face masks and nitrile gloves. This is one month’s worth of gear for two doctors or nurses, and they will go exclusively to medical staff attending COVID-19 patients in our local public hospitals! We obviously have a loooooong way to go, but it felt soooo good to purchase these today!

A group I belong to, Mazatlán Comparte, is comprised of service organizations, associations and private businesses here in Mazatlán looking to help those in need get food on their tables and looking to get effective personal protective equipment into the hands of medical staff who treat COVID-19 patients. It is an amazing team of talented volunteers working llloooooonggg hours to accomplish these goals. We are doing our absolute best to make sure that the personal protective equipment we purchase is certified and authentic; that it serves its purpose. We are scouring for the best prices. I myself have spent full-time this past week since we organized making connections, getting bids and having medical people test samples, between running our social media.

Several times a day since I joined the Mazatlán Comparte team, I get a new video from one of our local public hospitals that brings tears to my eyes. These doctors and nurses are working without adequate personal protective equipment. They are using masking tape to close their gowns. Today I received video of a COVID-19 patient being transported through the hospital and the patient didn’t even have a face mask to prevent contagion! They ask us not to publish the videos, but I glimpse a bit of what they are going through and it pains me deeply.

As I’ve quickly learned, it is really difficult to help.

  • I’ve worked with suppliers for days, only to find out they are lying about the quality of their product once I get the sample.
  • Likewise, I’ve worked with suppliers who suddenly increase their price, or sell off to a higher bidder.
  • There is just way too much medical equipment on the market that is pirated and ineffective and knowing how to distinguish what is what is a steep educational curve.
  • There is too much equipment being sold at inflated prices, enabling vendors to profit off the pandemic. Sadly, even quite a few of our local vendors. We have tried our best to keep business here in our community, to keep the money at home. But people have to have the spirit of giving, not just profiting.
  • Worse, there are truly wonderful people sewing fabric masks and making face covers, yet many of them when donated aren’t making it into the hands of the personnel who really need them.
  • Some of the donated items even get sold.

What can you do? First of all, if you are out and about for essential errands, PLEASE wear only masks made for the average person, not medical-grade masks. At Mazatlán Comparte (Mazatlán Shares) we have been searching high and low to get certified, functionally appropriate personal protective equipment for the medical staff of our local public hospitals. The sad thing is that there is so little of it available. Now is NOT the time for average citizens to be using medical gear! Let’s save that for those working with COVID-19 patients.

Second, quite a few of you have contacted me to tell me you are making fabric masks or face shields you would like to donate. That is awesome!!! THANK YOU! Mazatlán Comparte is working closely with doctors and nursing staff at our local public hospitals: General Hospital, IMSS and ISSSTE. We will make sure your donation goes to those who most need what you have donated, depending on their patient load and current hospital supplies of equipment.

mazatlan comparte inglMost importantly, you can DONATE MONEY. Yes, I know most of us hate to part with our hard-earned money. But if not now, during this crisis, when? We will make sure your donation goes to buy NEEDED and FUNCTIONAL equipment for those who ACTUALLY TREAT COVID-19 patients in our public hospitals. Instructions for donating are below. If you want your money to buy medical supplies, donate to Hospice (information on the left). Be sure to indicate clearly on your donation that it is for “Mazatlán Comparte,” so they can distinguish the purpose of your gift, or send us a copy of the receipt. You can pay via PayPal, too; just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Donate” button, adding in your comment during the process. If you want your money to go to buy food, please donate to the Food Bank (information on the right). They can buy much more food for the money you donate than you as a citizen are able to buy retail.

Bless you all! Thank you for all the help you give this community. Take care of yourself, each other, our neighbors. We will get through this. Share this post widely, if you would.

 

Please Help Your Home in Mazatlán!

MZT Comparte

A terrific group of organizations and individuals in Mazatlán has organized an ad-hoc non-profit called “Mazatlán Comparte” or “Mazatlán Shares” to help us make it through this pandemic as effectively as possible. Participating organizations include:

  • AMPI (Mexican Association of Realtors) Mazatlán
  • Canacintra (National Chamber of the Transformation of Industry) Mazatlán
  • Coparmex (Confederation of Employers of the Mexican Republic) Mazatlán
  • Hospice Mazatlán
  • IMSS Hospitals in Mazatlán
  • ISSSTE Hospital Mazatlán
  • Mazatlán Food Bank
  • Mazatlán General Hospital
  • Mazatlán Hotel Association
  • Scouts (both Mazatlán groups and the retired Scouts)
  • Sharp Hospital

More are joining everyday. Thus far Mazatlán has been blessed with very few cases. But our medical staff do not have the supplies they need to work safely, despite a new shipment of PPEs received by the Governor yesterday. As one of our members, the daughter of the head of the General Hospital and a lawyer here in town told me, “My father is 63 years old and suffered a heart attack a few years ago. We begged him to retire. He said, ‘No, my dear, this is when our people most need me active and helping out.’ Right then and there I committed myself to get them the protective equipment they need to get us through this crisis safely.”

Mazatlán Comparte is based on the successful effort in Culiacán, though fortunately we are a bit ahead of the curve here. We are cooperating with other municipalities in the state of Sinaloa to buy in bulk—cheaper and better quality!

We are collecting food and monetary donations via the Mazatlán Food Bank. The Food Bank has been experiencing huge demand due to widespread unemployment; on Thursday they served 580 families! They are able to buy food in bulk at good prices, so if you are a grower or producer, please donate in kind. If not, your monetary donation will make the most difference. If you are not easily able to donate to a Mexican bank account, you can use Xoom (a division of PayPal). Please help if you can!

Banco de Alimentos Mazatlán IAP

PayPal: 6692407916

Calle Río Pánuco 400
Col Ferrocarrilera
82013 Mazatlán, SInaloa
BAM-110101-EHA

Bank: BBVA/Bancomer
Account # 0199934960
Cuenta CLABE/Code: 01274400199934960 4

Tel: 669 981 2457
Email: info@bamazatlán.org.mx

The Food Bank is in the process of setting up a PayPal account to make it easier to donate. The medical supplies most in need are:

  • Tyvek-type waterproof, long-sleeved coveralls with boots (like veterinarians wear)
  • NIOSH-certified N95 masks
  • Face shields with goggles
  • Nitrile or latex disposable gloves

0c88ca4b-c1ea-4cc5-bd7f-1f5a6b89f32aHowever, each overall costs over 500 pesos! If any of you have a contact at the manufacturer (DuPont) or access to a provider who could make these for us here in Mazatlán or México—they don’t need to be Tyvek, just waterproof—please help us out. They want XXL sizes so they’ll fit everyone. If not, please donate via Hospice Mazatlán, and we will bulk purchase PPEs with Culiacán and other municipalities in Sinaloa. Below is Hospice’s bank information. They are also working on setting up a PayPal account. Apparently since they are IAP organizations it’s not as easy as it would be for you or me.

Hospice Mazatlán IAP

PayPal account (BE SURE to indicate in “Comments” that it is for Mazatlán Comparte, so we can distinguish money for emergency medical supplies.)

Privada Intl. 208
Col Palos Prietos
82010 Mazatlán, Sinaloa

Bank: BANORTE
Account # 0279959328
Cuenta CLABE/Code: 072 744 002 799 593 288

Tel: 669-182-1486
Email: info@hospicemazatlan.org

In addition to the donation efforts above, we are working with the hospitals and our local hotel associations to obtain temporary housing for doctors, nurses and other medical care providers, in case of need during this crisis. We do not want them potentially infecting their families, despite their best sanitary efforts. We are also working on transportation between the hospitals and those temporary residences.

Please, everyone, our unemployed families and our first responders really need your assistance. Thank you so very much if you are able to help. It is my privilege to be able to help coordinate some of this, and I will do my best to get your questions answered.