Foodbank Lakeside will run out of food in two weeks
Foodbank Lakeside team.
Patrick O’Heffernan , Ajijic. .- Foodbank Lakeside has only enough money to buy food for the families it feeds for two more weeks. FBL has been providing despensas to families in Lakeside devastated by Covid-19, sickness, and unemployment since April of this year, operating on donations from the Lakeside community and discounts from local food stores. But donations have fallen to a trickle and there may be no food to dispense after next week, even though there are hundreds of families who depend on it for their daily meals.
Paola de Watterlot, founder and Director of FBL, says that “many people who have donated think that families in Lakeside have returned to work and there is no more need for despensas,” she says pointing out that, “this is not true. There are still many families who need help.”
FBL serves approximately 600 families a week throughout Chapala, ranging from elderly couples to large families with many children. Each family is carefully vetted to insure they need help. Each family receives a despensa – a small one for two to four people, or a large one for 5 -10 people, each one feeding an average family for two weeks; families do not receive money. Food is bought from local vendors in each community who provide discounts to FBL.
“We know all of these families,” says de Watterlot, who was born in Guadalajara but has lived in Ajijic since she was 7 years old. “We have a Mexican member of our team who lives in each community we serve and knows the community and the families”, she adds.
De Watterlot founded FBL in April of this year to help families whose breadwinners lost their jobs when Covid-19 shut down businesses and the economy shrank. But as her team quickly learned, it was not just Covid-19 that was the problem – there were families with other medical problems or chronic unemployment that needed help, primarily the elderly, disabled, and sick. Since they opened, FBL has distributed over 10,000 dispensas to help these people.
“We help one family in Santa Cruz where one member has cancer and another has kidney failure,” said de Watterlot, as an example of the range of families they feed. They help over 200 families in Chapala, using a team of 2 American expats and three local Mexicans. The team even prepares special food for the family with kidney disease.
Food Bank Lakeside is managed by a volunteer board and 30 volunteers, both expats and Mexicans. Many of the expat volunteers help with fundraising, registering the families and purchasing. The Mexican volunteers often deliver the food despensas because they know the communities and the families, but everyone pitches in to do everything. The result is an organization which feeds 600 families at a cost of about 280,000 pesos — less than 125 pesos per person per month, a little going a very long way.
Because the need for food assistance goes beyond families devastated by Covid-19 de Watterlot wants to make the FBL a permanent fixture in Lakeside and has structured it as a registered non-profit that can provide a tax exemption to US donors. But first, she must get the organization through the next two weeks.
People can donate online or in person. Online donations can be made to the Foundation for Lakeside Charities at https://lakechapalacharities.org/donate/. Specify that your donation is for Food Bank Lakeside. Watterlot stresses that monthly donations are the best because they allow her to project income and plan better. Donors can also contact Food Bank Lakeside through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FoodBankLakeside/ or call at 376 765 7084 and a staff member will pick up a cash donation. Donations are tax-deductible for US citizens and FBL will provide a tax receipt for donations. And consider volunteering.
An interview with Dr. Santiago Hernandez, Medical Director of the new Ribera Medical Center
¿Dr. Santiago Hernandez, Medical Director of the new Ribera Medical Center.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. This past Friday the new Ribera Medical Center was inaugurated in a ceremony studded with stars of the medical establishment, including Secretary of Health Dr. Jorge Alcocer Carlos Varela, as well as local dignitaries like Chapala President Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar. The two story state-of-the-art facility was envisioned 4 years ago by its investors, led by Luis Antonio Michel Ruelas of the Vallarta Medical Center and Humberto Famanía Ortega of Puerto Vallarta. The actual opening is scheduled for October 31, although it could be a few days earlier, if the final equipment is installed early and finishing touches applied to the building.
Two day before the inauguration, the Medical Center’s Medical Director, Dr. Santiago R. Hernandez, M.D. who is also Director of ChapalaMed, sat down with Laguna for a conversation about the new hospital and hospital care in Lakeside.
Laguna: How did you determine that a private hospital was needed in Lakeside, since there is a new hospital in San Antonio, a hospital in Ajijic and new cardiac center in west Ajijic.
Dr. Hernandez: Our vision started in 2016 when one of our main investors planned to open a nursing care center and we did know about the plans for a new hospital in San Antonio. In 2017, when we formalized our plans, we did quite a bit of study and we found that there is a need for a full-service hospital that could handle emergencies, heart attacks and strokes, and had the necessary ICU, labs – everything that would expect to find in a hospital north of the border, where my standards come from.
Laguna: So that capability does not exist in Lakeside now?
Dr. Hernandez: We did not see all that capability in one place in Lakeside. The other medical centers have some of it, but lack other elements like an ICU or cardiac catherization lab, or the ability to accept all emergencies, although they may add these capabilities later. The Ribera Medical Center will have all the capabilities that you would expect from a hospital up north all in one place.
Laguna: What do you plan to offer at the Ribera Medical Center?
Dr. Hernandez: At this point in time, Ribera Medical Center will be dedicated primarily for emergencies and for surgery. We will do all levels of surgery, except transplants or open-heart surgery – we need to be open for a couple of years and have our blood bank ready for those kinds of procedures – but everything else. And eventually, we will be able to handle almost all other kinds of procedures.
Laguna: What kind of equipment and facilities will the hospital have at opening?
Dr. Hernandez: We will have an ICU, a neo-natal unit, a labor and delivery room, and an emergency room; at this point we have 14 hospital rooms, a fully functioning blood bank, an infusion lab for chemotherapy, a cardiac catherization lab – a hybrid lab where we can take care of heart attacks or strokes, three surgical suits, and full imaging. We have CT and full radiology and x-ray and mammography now, and we are expecting delivery of the MRI equipment and insulation for installation in our MRI room.
Laguna: What doctors will have admitting privileges at the Medical Center?
Dr. Hernandez: We are an open hospital, which means that as Medical Director my job will be to vet the credentials of all doctors who want privileges. I will make sure they are trained and certified for the surgery they want to do here. So, if a cardiology surgeon wants to admit a patient for heart surgery, they have to be certified for this kind of surgery. In another example, we can’t have a general practitioner without certification granted privileges to do plastic surgery, which is done in Guadalajara.
Laguna: Do the high standards you describe indicate that the Medical Center will be involved in medical tourism?
Dr. Hernandez: We intend for this hospital to be one of the main hubs in for medical tourism. I am member of the Congreso de Nacional Turismo Medico in Mexico; we promote medical tourism on a national and international basis. We want to promote that the doctors at our hospital have full credentials and respect here and abroad. Plus, our telemedicine partnerships should give patients additional confidence. And it is convenient that the Radisson Hotel is right across the street.
Laguna: Will you take Medicare from the USA?
Dr. Hernandez: The short answer is no…there is no legal way to take Medicare in Mexico. I know the hospital in San Antonio says they work with Medicare, but “working with” and taking Medicare insurance are two different things. There is no legal way for us to take the insurance. Usually in cases where an American has been out of the US for 16 days or less, Medicare will reimburse for emergency care. That is the one way we can do it.
Laguna: You are “inaugurating” the medical center this week, but not opening it? When will it be open for patients?
Dr. Hernandez: Right now, I can tell you that we will open by October 31, but it could be sooner.
Laguna: And who will be managing the hospital?
Dr. Hernandez: The Director will be Julio Carbajal from San Miguel de Allende, and the Administrator is Roselda Dominguez.
Music Sin Fronteras radio is coming to Semanario Laguna.
Foto: Patrick O’Heffernan.
Ajijic’s own global music radio program, Music Sin Fronteras, hosted by music critic and writer for the English page on Semanario Laguna , Patrick O’Heffernan, will now be available at semanariolaguna.com/. Each week, Laguna readers will get an advance peek at the upcoming guest and a phone number they can use to call in live on the show.
Covering every facet of popular music, Program Host Patrick interviews artists and plays cuts from their albums, EP’s and singles. He talks with artists from the US, Latin America and sometimes even Europe. All interviews are in English, although the song lyrics are often Spanish or Spanglish.
Host Patrick focuses on rising singers and bands, local talent in Lakeside, and artists who are at the cusp of going big time, with the occasional famous guest. While his specialty is fusion music –Latino/gringo– he plays virtually anything you can dance to from cumbia to hip hop to blues and jazz and rock and even folk and electronica. He also covers local live music – it’s coming back!– and the FIMPRO Latin Music Convention in Guadalajara, the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York, and the Latin Grammys.
On the air for seven years in Los Angeles as Music Friday Live radio, Host Patrick changed the name to Music Sin Fronteras when he moved to Mexico last year and set up a broadcast studio in downtown Ajijic. He broadcasts every Friday at 1 pm CT on stations in the US and the UK. Semanario Laguna readers will get the broadcast link, the weekly lineup, and the talk line to call in and talk with the artists.
As Lakeside opens up, local families still need help
Chapala Expat Liasion Hector nEspana helping families.
Patrick O’Heffernan.- As the Lakeside community begins to up from the quarantine to stop the spread of Covid-19, both Mexicans and Expats are working to help ease the impact on the local families in need, but the help provided by Expat organizations and businesses to the local communities needs to remain strong.
Among the businesses and organizations who have been “angels” are Operation Feed in San Juan Cosalá, Super La Huerta Market in West Ajijic, which has been providing food despensas, Programa de Niños Incapacitados, Lake Chapala Center, Foodbank Lakeside, and many others.
Many Expats have donated to these organizations or taken personal responsibility for supporting local individuals they know or who work for them, even when they must stay home. Local restaurants, which are themselves often in a difficult situation, have been feeding families in need. Casa Maybella Test Kitchen and La Bodega are two of the many restaurants that have provided meals to families devastated by the quarantine.
Dispenses packed by volunteers awaiting distribtuion
But the need will not diminish immediately as restaurants and stores open. Chapala Expat Liaison Héctor España points out that and almost every neighborhood in Chapala has families that are stressed for things beside food and that there is a great need in many neighborhoods throughout Lakeside.
The towns of Santa Cruz de la Soledad and San Nicolás de Ibarra have no economic activity and are especially hard hit. “The people there need more than food – they need money and medical care and everything required to support families,” he said, noting that “even in Ajijic with many gringos, there are hungry families because people like waiters and dishwashers and cooks have been out of work.”
España himself goes out and delivers despensas and knows of families that have not been helped, so he tries to see to it that they get what they need. On his Facebook Page he complements the Expat “angels” who go out on a second round of deliveries with more despensas including visiting families who tell him that they have been missed by all others. Some “angels” also continue his second round with other families.
Some families do get government assistance he noted, from the several million pesos the Federal and Jalisco governments allocated for relief and small business help. But it was far too little for
Jocotepec cracks down on quarantine violators.
Starting on the 21st, the President announced the tightening of the containment strategy. In the photo, the President of Jocotepec, José Miguel Gómez (center), with municipal government officials.
Miguel Cerna.- Citing a lack of compliance, Jocotepec Municipal President José Miguel Gómez López announced a tightening of the government’s strategy for the containment of the coronavirus.
As of May 21, the Municipal Government will closely monitor compliance with sanitary provisions, including detaining people who ignore them and put the population at risk. This strategy will be implemented by the municipal corporation of Public Security in conjunction with the National Guard, Civil Protection, Paramedics and other officials to ensure that people do what they have to do.
Gómez López stated that “I am going to start proceeding to arrest those groups that are meeting without responsibility and putting the population at risk. I have tried to be very flexible in all aspects, I would allow them (the shops) to work with a curtain in half, with slats and many activities were done in a way that people understood and I tried to take many actions within the criteria so as not to hurt the economy and not hurt people in their ordinary life. «
Locations where large numbers of people have been gathering, such as the Libramiento and the vicinity of the boardwalk, will be closely monitored for violators… Find the full story in this week’s issue.
Chapala, no reported cases of coronavirus and dengue so far
The public areas of the municipality have been closed.
Manuel Jacobo (Chapala, Jal).- In its Thursday, April 23, briefing the municipality of Chapala reported no confirmed cases of Covid-19 virus and, no cases of dengue fever. At that day in total, 254 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the state of Jalisco.
Seventeen cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Health Region IV -four in Jamay, seven in Ocotlán, four more in Tizapán el Alto, one in La Barca and one more in Poncitlán- however, Chapala registered only two suspected cases of Covid-19, both of which tested negative.
However, a Chapalense residing in the United States has died from the virus. Salvador Rodriguez Medina, 47 years old -a 17 years resident of Santa Ana, California-, succumbed to Covid-19 on April 13 in the US. Additionally, an Ajijic woman and her spouse now living in Santa Ana California, home to a large community of Jalisco and Michoacán-born residents, are also reportedly fighting disease.
Miguel Zermeño Castillo, Regional Director of Jalisco’s dengue vector control program told Semanario Laguna that to date there have been no infections in the municipality of Chapala, but that -as a prevention- there were 180 ovitraps used to trap mosquitoes and collect their eggs to maintain surveillance. Castillo reported to local officials last October that the program had found no dengue at that time. In addition, the City Council of Chapala has started a campaign, to reduce the mosquito population by removing breeding areas, and if necessary, use fumigation to reduce the risk of contagion in the municipality. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
Gift certificates in Lakeside help small business.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic) Economic growth estimates have been lowered by both public and private economists who report that, depending the course of Coronavirus (CV-19) in Mexico, as many as 18 million jobs could be at risk. Hardest hit will be the informal sector – small businesses, entrepreneurs and micro/street vendors, according to a BBVA economic analysis.
These impacts are apparent now in Lakeside. A stroll through the quiet streets of Ajijic or San Juan Cosala or even Jocotepec and Chapala makes it obvious that small businesses are hurting.
Several local businesses are offering gift certificates to bring in immediate cash. One example, Casa Domenech restaurant in Ajijic, is closed but encourages clients to buy certificates through PayPal and sends them an electronic certificate they can print at home or show on their phones when the restaurant reopens. Others provide certificates at their location for cash.
Ajijic resident Michael Searles has announced a regional program, Apollo 2020, to enable any Lakeside business to sell gift certificates, with the Apollo Program handling the financial transfers and certificate delivery. The program is open to all small businesses in the Lake Chapala area.
“We hope all expats will help to support their favorite merchants during this difficult time and show them our appreciation for welcoming us into their community,” said Searles of the program
A gift certificate will be customized for each business; Siker Publicidad Y Diseño will produce the certificates at a reduced price. Businesses will number each gift certificate, add customer information, enter the denomination and sign it.
Roberto Serrano, owner of the Plazapato shoe stores, has set up a free delivery service of local youths working with strict virus preventative measures like masks and gloves to bring the certificates direct to the purchasers and collect payment.
Businesses can contact Roberto Serrano at WhatsApp 33 1428 (or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org) or Michael Searles at 376-766-0826 (or via email at email@example.com) to participate in the program.
Lakeside springs into action to help families hard hit by Coronavirus; where to donate.
Masks made by volunteers for Operation Feed in San Jun Cosala.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic.) During the C-19 coronavirus many Lakeside organizations have come forward to help people who have lost jobs or income or who are sick. This list is by no means exhaustive and new efforts pop up every day, but it demonstrates the depth and breadth of generosity in the Lakeside area and offers opportunities to those who would like to help.
Operation Feed in San Juan Cosala, a town hit very hard by unemployment by the virus is providing food despensas for those who would go hungry without them. They are collecting food and medicine and money for needy families at http://www.operationfeedsjc.org/donate.html.
Super La Huerta market in west Ajijic collects food for needy Mexican families and assembles despensas of food, masks, and basic home supplies for families. Anyone who would like to help is invited to stop by with donations. The stores is at Carretera Pte. 248, 45920 Ajijic; phone number is 376 766 4590
The Recovery and Rehabilitation Center for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction in Chapala is going from door to door throughout Lakeside collecting food for patients in Chapala. People who don’t have sealed bags of rice or beans or other suitable foods can give cash.
Volunteer from CREAD collecting food donations.
Casa Mayabela Test Kitchen is helping families with Smoke for Hope, a freshly-cooked food provision program that provides highly nutritious and delicious meals to families in need. Round 2 of Smoke and Hope was able to feed 9 families last week. Owner Karl Gerzand is now receiving donations from Mexico, Europe and the US and gearing up for Round 3. Donations can be made to CasaMayabela.com. Two hundred pesos feeds a family.
Dinners from Casa Mayabela Smoke for Hope program.
Programma de Niños Incapacitados, which helps disabled children and their families through its three clinics where families come for advice and reimbursement of medical costs. The organization is currently helping between 150 and 200 families, many of whom have children with compromised immune systems. They have not yet had to deal with families hit by the virus but know it is likely, and will develop an alternative process because they had to close their three clinic-offices. Instead, for the time being they gave families enough cash for 2 months. Due to the virus Niños cannot produce its annual gala fundraising event and must raise $ 500,000 pesos in a capital campaign to continue for many more months, especially if Coronavirus reaches families they help. People who want to donate to Niños Icapaciados can go to https://www.programaninos.com/
Foodbank Lakeside has been one of the most active organizations, working with Mexican and Ex-pat volunteers, other charities and small local stores to create weekly care packages for needy families. Last week they provided $71,588 worth of food for 210 families in Ajijic, San Antonio Tlayacapan, Santa Cruz and San Pedro. They are now working in San Nicolas and Mezcala and assembling teams for Chapala. They operate on donations which can be made to : https://paypal.me/pools/c/8o0ufezDh4. Follow them on Facebook for credit card donations and volunteer opportunities.
Despensa from Foodbank Lakeside
Facebook groups and individual accounts are coming alive with opportunities to help. An example is Noemi Beltran’s Facebook page which organizes Solidarity Care Packages to meet basic needs with toilet paper, dry goods, canned foods, vegetables and other items plus 200 pesos cash to families hit hard by the COVID-19. Each package costs about $1,000 pesos and can be a lifeline for a family in need. Donations can go to www.PayPal.me/NoemiBeltranLo; the food packages are delivered from the Abastos market in Guadalajara to the families door.
Finally Government officials in Chapala and Jocotepec are donating a part of their salaries to efforts to feed local families that would go hungry otherwise. They are working with local charities to purchase and distribute food, masks, and other necessities.
Advertising of Food Lake Container.
Ajijic Doctor joins bi-national webinar panel on Latinos.
Dr. Santiago Hernandez, M.D., Medical Director of Chapala Med.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic)- HispanicPro’s Webinar “What Latinos Need to Know About Coronavirus and their Health” was aired live on Wednesday from Chicago. Dr. Santiago Hernandez, M.D., Medical Director of Chapala Med and RMC Hospital was joined by Emergency Physician Dr. Pilar Ortega M.D., and Geraldine Luna, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago. The Zoom webinar was attended by people in the US and Mexico by internet and telephone and was in English.
Dr. Ortega, who chairs the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement, explained that Latinos need to understand that Covid-19 infections grow exponentially every day: “Covid-19 is more contagious than any virus we have seen.” Dr. Luna echoed this, noting that models show a single person can infect 59,495 other people if they do not isolate themselves. “We need to flatten the curve and staying home reduces fatalities and flattens the curve,” she said.
Dr. Santiago noted that the infection numbers in Mexico were low, but possibly underreported. He understood that many in the Mexican community may not be taking the virus seriously and think it is like the H1N1 flu, which it is not.
Announcement of HispanicPro webinar with Ajijic physician Dr. Santiago Hernandez of Chapala Med.
“People in Mexico have big families and are very social; they have a hard time saying “no” to request for visits or family gatherings, “ Dr. Hernandez said, adding “ It is hard to isolate big families in Mexico – it is who we are. Unfortunately, our cultural norms that give us our identity may harm us.” He suggested that Mexican families say” no” to visits by explaining it is a way to protect the family.
The panel recommended frequent handwashing, noting that disinfectant gels are only 70% effective while thorough handwashing is 90% effective. The also refused to recommend any of the drugs now big promoted as cures saying that staying home is the best preventative. The panel also recommended wearing cloth masks when you leave the house, although they are not perfect and should not give us a false sense of confidence.
Dr. Santiago told the audience that this is a unique time in world history, “it will change our world and our mindset, he said, “I am grateful every day to be alive and not sweat the small stuff or the numbers and focus on the hopeful stories.”
US Ambassador reaches out to American citizens in a live stream Q&A
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- US Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau went on Facebook Live on March 31, at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the most recent Department of State travel advice for U.S. citizens in light of COVID-19 and to answer questions from US citizens currently in Mexico. He was joined by the Counsel General and other staff.
Ambassador Landau pointed out that the Embassy and the 9 US consulates in Mexico were operating with reduced staff and they were also in lock-down so some functions had been suspended and others would take longer than usual. The primary message from the Ambassador was for Americans who did not live permanently in Mexico or did not intend to stay indefinitely to go home, now.
“If you are a tourist in Mexico, it is time to go home,” he said, “the State Department has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for the whole world. Please return home unless you intend to stay in Mexico.” He continued, “If you are a resident in Mexico, think long and hard about your personal situation,” he advised, “ where your support network is located There is no right or wrong answer.”
Amassadsor Landau on LIvestream, March 31.
He also told participants that Americans returning home should have no trouble getting through the border either by land or by air, unless they had symptoms, in which case they may be examined or quarantined. He could not predict whether or not Mexican authorities would allow Americans to enter Mexico. He noted that Medicare does not cover Americans in Mexico and that some insurance companies have added riders to their policies eliminating care or paid travel to the US for treatment in the case of Coronavirus. He urged Americans in Mexico to review their insurance policies and to enroll in the State Department’s STEP program at https://step.state.gov to receive information updates.
The live stream, which was interrupted to fix audio problems, was recorded and can be accessed at the Embassy’s Facebook Page at https://bit.ly/2Uy5Hc3. The embassy will respond to emailed questions at ACSMexicoCity@state.gov as time and staff allow.