By Shermakaye Bass, Fara Foundation reporter and editor
Matagalpa, Nicaragua — As Fara Foundation’s summer medical mission approaches — our largest to date, by far — we are extremely pleased to introduce the new director of Fara Clinic in Matagalpa: Dr. Freddy José Espinoza Cruz, MD, MPH (Masters of Public Health), a Nicaraguan whose medical expertise has taken him to many other countries, but whose his love of home, and a deep sense of place, has kept his commitments local.
The married father of two daughters and a son (ages 4, 6 and 12), Dr. Espinoza brings 14 years’ experience from both the nonprofit and public health realms. He has extensive background in the development of health care programming for underserved families, with special insights into infant/child care, nutrition, and public-awareness/outreach services. His research and studies have taken him from Peru to Indonesia to the United States for comparative analysis of care for indigent women and children — in particular, women whose reproductive health is at risk from communicable disease such as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), AIDS and HIV.
Dr. Espinoza comes to us after five years with CARE Centro America (CA), from 2007 to 2012, where he was responsible for development, management and execution of applied field research. In his last position with CARE CA, Nicaragua, he oversaw the Window of Opportunity project for Infant, Young and Child Feeding (IYCF) in the the territory of Matagalpa. The 44-year-old will oversee Fara Clinic’s staff of 10, which includes a gyno-urologist and her registered nurse, general practitioner and her assistant, dentist/hygienist, cervical cancer specialist, social-outreach coordinator and the clinic’s administrative staff.
“Since I was very young, I always dreamed about helping the people in my country. One way to do that is by contributing to the betterment of their health,” says Dr. Espinoza, an easy-going man who goes by Freddy.
Born in Cuidad Dario, Matagalpa, Freddy’s goals and expertise blend perfectly with our fast-growing clinic, which in the past four months has not only expanded structurally (we’ve added a new 2,000-square foot “wing” to our 12-room clinic in the heart of coffee-growing country) but is evolving its philosophical missions. Since opening in late 2010, we have continued to hone our clinic’s demographic, focusing on low-cost ($1.25 per visit) care for the most needy while asking a sliding-scale fee from our more fortunate patients. This is an important policy, keeping Fara Foundation and Fara Clinic true to its commitment to serve northern Nicaragua’s very poorest.
As Dr. Espinoza explains, at such times of rapid growth it is important to clarify and streamline Fara Clinic‘s system of treatment, as we meet a burgeoning demand. His immediate goals are three-fold.
“One, I would like to contribute to achieving the vision of the clinic, which is to have a greater impact in prevention, detection and treatment of rural women with cervical cancer , or those who are at risk of developing the disease,” Dr. Espinoza says. “Two, I will be fortifying the team at the clinic, achieving a greater integration of our social commitment and our treatment of patients from the countryside, who have trouble attaining and affording basic health care, while reaching out to the neediest in the city of Matagalpa (as well as surrounding towns, which increasingly refer patients to Fara Clinic).
“And finally,” he concludes, “we will generate and consolidate evidence of our achievements and the impacts of our programs, so we can share and further coordinate our efforts with key players among national (U.S., Nicaraguan) and international nonprofits.”
As a native of Dario, in the state of Matagalpa, Dr. Espinoza has a personal as well as professional perspective. He is the first doctor in his family, who still reside in Dario, and he tells us that his new position as director of Fara Clinic dovetails with his own beliefs.
“With an organization like Fara Foundation, you can help many people, those who are poor and excluded from traditional health care systems. And through this, finally we can contribute to the reduction of poverty.”
Dr. Espinoza received his MD from the Autonomous National University of Nicaragua in Leon (UNAN), in 1996, and his MPH in 2002, from UNAN’s Center of Investigations and Studies of Health (CIES). He joined Fara Clinic in June.
Welcome aboard, Freddy!