Clinica Verde

Clinica Verde

Nicaragua
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Clinica Verde is building a new model of care for families in need. We were founded in April of 2007 with the urgent belief that we could – and should – rethink our approach to healthcare for the poor to include a more complete understanding of an individual’s wellness. Clínica Verde approaches health holistically, creating a clinic prototype that starts with environmentally sustainable design and clinical excellence and extends to the nutritional, educational, spiritual and economic health of an individual, her family, and community.

When mothers and children come to Clínica Verde they will receive superior care by Nicaraguan doctors with oversight by American doctors in a setting that includes a working garden, demonstration kitchen, community meeting room, playground, prayer alcove, and café. The benefits to the constituent community include improved quality of health and lifestyle through excellent clinical care and nutrition education, family planning, community support, and opportunities for self-agency.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Nicaragua has the highest rate of adolescent fertility in Latin America. The country has also focused health efforts on lowering the rates of infant and maternal mortality. Clinica Verde has responded to this direction. We aim to reduce by 20 % the number of hospitalizations for infant dehydration, infant mortality and the number of babies of low birth weight. This number is strongly linked to Nicaragua’s high rate of adolescent fertility, thus making the sexual education of young women essential. These women and children will be the focus of our programs.
About You
Organization:
Clinica Verde
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Susan

Last Name

Dix Lyons

Organization

Clinica Verde

Country

, CA

Are you an individual between the ages of 18 and 35 who would like to apply for a nine month Young Champions Program mentored by an Ashoka Fellow?

No

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Clinica Verde

Organization Phone

7077383189

Organization Address

109 Camino Vista

Organization Country

, CA

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, BO

Innovation
What makes your idea unique?

Clinica Verde takes a holistic approach to health, beginning with sustainable design and clinical excellence and extending to the educational, nutritional, spiritual and economic health of the woman and her family. We understand that health and well-being involves not just sound medical care, but a series of linked lifestyle behaviors and opportunities for our cherished patients.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
What impact have you had?

We are in the construction phase of our project. In the past 2 years, as we've raised funds for capital construction, we've developed strong Nicaraguan partners in the fields of health, media and human rights and gotten to know and build relationships with the community we will serve. We've designed our clinic with a binational team of experts, recruited, worked with and learned from our Nicaraguan medical director, and engaged stakeholders in the U.S., Nicaragua and Europe. As a start-up, we've raised over $600,000 just on our vision alone.

If all goes well, clinic construction should be completed by the end of 2010, when we hope to go operational. We'll begin by providing clinical care and outreach of basic needs for women and their families and build from there. Our Nicaraguan and US doctors have established a goal of providing a medical home for 4,000 children for 12,000 visits per year and prenatal care for 1,500 high-risk pregnancies for 6,000 visits per year. The clinic aims to reduce by 20 % the number of hospitalizations for infant dehydration, infant mortality and the number of babies of low birth weight by providing pre-natal and post-natal care, information and basic education to our cherished clients. Our programs will build from there.

Actions

As mentioned above, we have spent the past 2 years seeking to better understand the challenges, receiving education from Nicaraguan experts in the field, developing relationships with the community we will serve and interrogating our own ideas and thinking. We have sought direction on vision, mission and board development, and cultivated supporters in the U.S., Europe and Nicaragua. We seek to have wide and deep support, but most important to us is that Clinica Verde is a project that "belongs" to the community it serves – responding to its challenges and involving the community in our goals and development.

Results

Our vision is "changing lives through health and hope." In short, we hope to change lives. That means that the women, girls and children we serve will gain a better understanding of their environment and options, take ownership of their well-being, be provided direction and access to education, and be treated with love and dignity. We want to help provide a sense of hope and value. So that a 12-year-old girl doesn't feel like pregnancy is her only future. So that our impoverished clients are aided in matters of basic hygiene and nutrition, that the bonds of community are strengthened, and the field of opportunity expands.

As noted, our health outcomes will be measured by improvements in key health areas, but our vision goes beyond the hard numbers to treating the whole person as an individual of great worth and fewer limits than imagined.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

One of the greatest strengths of Clinica Verde is the Nicaraguans involved. We have leaders at both the national and local level committed to the success of our project, and we have spent the last few years working alongside our key people working within the community. We've simultaneously worked hard to build an international base of supporters through outreach, including speaking engagements and social networking. Although we're working to build financial sustainability into the clinic, we realize that we'll have a continued need to raise funds through individuals and foundations and we're committed to furthering developing those relationships. Finally, the passion and belief of the team involved has been – and is – essential to our success.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Lack of funding.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

If yes, provide organization name.

Violeta Chamorro Foundation in Managua, Nicaragua

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with government?

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

The business Valley Architects has donated all their time and talent to develop our clinic plan, as has the principal of the development company Archilogix. The Violeta Chamorro Foundation is a long-established and respected foundation in Nicaragua that represents us within that country, giving us both credibility and the advantage of their experience.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

To raise the funds necessary to finish construction and seed operation, develop our medical plan and staff, and initiate education programs through training and outreach.

The Story
What was the defining moment that you led to this innovation?

The impetus was the children. The moment was when I was sitting at a table in a restaurant in Managua with the then-Minister of Health of Nicaragua and the daughter of the former President – herself the director of a foundation and a celebrated journalist within her country. I asked them if they would partner with me in a health project. I knew I couldn't do it without them. Remarkably, they said yes. This was a license to dream.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

That's me. The original idea for Clinica Verde came from me, as I imagined what healthcare for the impoverished could be if it were to be ideal. The trend seems to be "think small." It seems that mainly low-cost innovations are interesting to the public and the professional social sector. It's a very market-based mindset. I wanted to rethink healthcare from the ground up – the environment, the approach. Do it prudently and as cost-effectively as possible, but also consider the role environment plays on a woman's health and attitude. As absurd as it sounds to some, we wanted our health clinic to be beautiful and inviting as well as clinically excellent. What if we were the create a place where women *want* to go. Would it be easier to teach, involve, excite their hopes and dreams? (As a woman, I know I thrive in such environments.) Let's try that in one community, where we have strong grass-roots support and relationships. (If it doesn't end up as we imagine, we'll always have a nice clinic that we can manage and establish teaching relationships with US medical teams, hospitals and universities – all entities that have already expressed interest in working with us.)

But I was only the initial spark, the idea got so much better and really took shape when our team thought through the concept together, and when we asked for the ideas of others. The most interesting elements of Clinica Verde came from other people. The demonstration kitchen came when we showed our clinic design to a well-known and honored Medical Director of community clinics for Hispanics where we live. We asked him, if you could redesign your clinic, what would you change? What's missing? He said the demonstration kitchen (his clinic leases with a community college to teach nutrition in a hands-on environment). The plan for the organic garden came from the Violeta Chamorro Foundation, who were working on a 3-year agriculture program for rural families. It's hard to remember all the contributions that improved the original idea.

To be honest, I don't think I have many concrete talents. But what I'm good at is motivating experienced, talented people around an idea and keeping them passionate and focused about the outcome. I'm good at connecting people. And I don't give up.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company