Our program is based on five elements which work together to create long-lasting success:
1. In-House Care of Acute Malnourishment
Casa Jackson is designed to accommodate up to 20 in-house cases of severe malnourishment. These patients consist of children and infants who run a high risk of mortality without immediate intervention. After the triaging process, admitted patients begin the long road to recovery. Our recovery approach was designed following the World Health Organization’s guidelines, and implements approaches from different professionals in the field of malnutrition.
Using a computer-based data monitoring program, the patient’s progress is tracked and recorded with diet and treatment decisions made through careful data analysis. Temperature and weight levels are recorded daily as well as the child’s nutritional intake and waste elimination masses. Care of a child involves much more than providing them with a safe environment and sufficient nutrition. Children come into the world ready to absorb their environment. Without mental stimulation and human affection, their bodies may grow, but their minds will slowly waste away. The large volume of volunteers the center manages makes it possible to give constant love and attention to each and every child. The volunteers assist the nurses in feeding, cleaning, and caring for the patients.
Inpatient stays vary by severity and are generally between 3 weeks and 4 months. When the children are released from the center, they are released as happy healthy children into an environment that ensures the problem will not resurface (see Rehabilitated Living Conditions).
2. Outpatient Rehabilitation
With over half of the population of Guatemala suffering from some degree of malnutrition, finding cases of the disease is not difficult. If a case of malnutrition is not severe enough to pass Casa Jackson’s triaging, they are still helped through our outpatient care. The center works with treatment and monitoring of up to one hundred such chronic malnourishment cases in the surrounding communities. Working with partners such as Direct Relief International, the center is able to provide proper nutrition, education, and monitoring so that over time these children can become properly nourished.
3. Field Clinics as an Integral Ingredient to Fighting Malnutrition
Part of the problem of malnutrition in Guatemala arises because many communities do not have access to proper healthcare. Casa Jackson regularly conducts field clinics to bring medical care to poorer communities. The purpose of holding field clinics is threefold. Initially they provide a place where entire communities can receive educational classes teaching simple ways of providing proper nutrition with modest resources. In addition to the educational aspect of the clinics, each child is measured and weighed. This supplies data on the severity and extent of the problem in many areas where such studies have never been done thoroughly. From that data choices are made as to which child is severe enough to encourage their parents to admit them to Casa Jackson for immediate medical intervention. Less severe cases are admitted to the outpatient program in which the families are given educational intervention and the children insured proper nutrition and close monitoring. Success is measured by tracking the progress these children make over time.
4. Community Empowerment
Field clinics are facilitated with the coordination of local community leaders, as working with them inspires trust and confidence in communities that are culturally wary of outsiders. These leaders are taught the simple measurements used in the triaging process so that in the future they can identify severe malnutrition cases and refer them to the center.
5. Rehabilitated Living Conditions
Merely treating victims of malnutrition without addressing the cause is a losing strategy. No matter how effective the center is at rehabilitation, it is all done in vain if they are placed in situations where the vicious cycle is allowed to continue.The inpatient recovery program encompasses the recovery of a child’s entire family. Casa Jackson’s social worker makes an initial visit to a family to make an assessment of the underlying causes of the patient’s malnourishment. They take into account a family’s water supply, monthly income, diet, housing situation, and a host of other factors that could lead to malnourishment.
After the problems are identified, the appropriate solutions are implemented. If contaminated water is a culprit, the family is given an EcoFilter™ with instructions on how to use it to purify water for human consumption. If the family’s economical condition is a cause, the social worker can begin a microfinance program in which they learn how to raise 100 chickens that in addition to providing a ready source of protein can be sold for a profit margin of up to $200 a month, which is double what most poor families live off of. While the child is being rehabilitated, the family is being educated and assisted so that when the child is well enough to return, the recovery will be permanent.
Malnutrition affects every level of Guatemalan society. Under the direction and support of Asociación Nuestros Ahijados, Casa Jackson is a model center for combating and preventing malnutrition, delving into each level of the problem, and utilizing a large network of support to present a variety of workable solutions to a complicated problem.