UMES and La Merced collaborate to help poor in Central America
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Oct. 1, 2013) - For nearly a decade, La Merced, a Salisbury-based nonprofit organization, has provided specialized medical services and supplies to the poor—mainly children in Nicaragua. This past January when the team went on its annual mission trip to Managua, UMES volunteers went along.
UMES President Juliette B. Bell, left, and La Merced President Dr. Vincent Perrotta and his wife, Tina, the organization’s executive director, sign an agreement to work together to seek and provide medical and supporting services for the people of Nicaragua. Joining them are UMES representatives Dr. Nicholas Blanchard, dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and Dr. Veronique Diriker, director of development.
The university and the nonprofit, sealed their commitment to work together to seek grants and other external support for medical and supporting projects that would benefit the people of Nicaragua in an formal agreement signed Sept. 24. Both entities also will recruit volunteers, Veronique Diriker, UMES’ director of development and project manager for the memorandum of understanding, said.
“We are honored to work with UMES,” said Dr. Vincent Perrotta, La Merced’s president.
“La Merced’s partnership with UMES will undoubtedly elevate La Merced to the next level. Through the university’s creative consciousness, La Merced will embark on new, exciting endeavors never envisioned by her current leaders.”
UMES benefits as well.
“By collaborating with La Merced, together we are providing humanitarian aid to a group of people in need of assistance, and providing hands-on experience in a unique setting for students in our School of Pharmacy and Health Professions,” UMES President Juliette B. Bell, said.
And a difference is being made.
"The progress we have made is huge,” said Tina Perrotta, Vincent Perrotta’s wife and the organization’s executive director. The first trip, she said, consisted of sending one physician to treat 25 patients. Last year, there were over 500 along with 30 volunteers from other walks of life, who assisted over 1,000 patients in one week. Those helped were mostly children in need of plastic and reconstructive surgery, dentistry, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology and primary care.
The care is provided through the Roberto Clemente Clinic and the Mascota and Roberto Calderon Orthopedic hospitals.
"The biggest progress we have seen is in collaborating with physicians in Managua so that they can continue when we’re not there,” Tina Perrotta, said. “We work with them all year teaching them new techniques, especially in plastics, hip and knee replacement, pain management and other medical procedures.”
Diriker, who went on the medical mission earlier this year, saw first-hand what a difference can be made.
“La Merced healthcare providers repaired faces, bones and hands, but also mended dignity, quality of life and long lost dreams. The people of Nicaragua gave us hope in humanity, softened our hearts and lifted our spirits. The mission is a medical and cultural exchange and we are most grateful to the Perrottas for making UMES part of the team.”
Gail Stephens, assistant director, Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org