Opening Hearts

Los Cabos children’s foundation means that literally and figuratively
BY: MIKE D. BAKY

The recent evolution of the pediatric cardiac care program in southern Baja has been moving fast and we owe it all to the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation, a local charity founded and mostly supported by the foreign community. Of course the object is to help the locals, mostly kids.

Small heart patient saved by the generosity of the foreign communityWhat began two years ago as a series of open heart surgeries under the administration and funding of the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation (LCCF) and in partnership with the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha Nebraska, and the Secretary of Health of our state here, has grown into a complicated process of building all the components of a cardiology, surgery and cath program for the children of  our state, Baja California Sur (BCS). When a child is born here with serious health complications, it’s pretty much a death sentence, as there is no facility or personnel equipped or trained to fix it.

So, the LCCF jumped in with both feet. But, as this process of fixing such complex medical issues started bogging down the foundation, they figured they needed a new plan. They realized they couldn’t take every heart patient to the United States, that they would have to set up a treatment protocol here. So the Foundation did just that. They involved IMSS, ISSSTE and Seguro Popular, the government controlled health plans supported through payroll deductions of everyone who works on the books and pays taxes.

The Foundation is calling this program within the larger Foundation Abriendo Corazones - Opening Hearts (ACOH), in English. In case you don’t get it, the name is a plea for generous minded people to open their hearts, as well as a good description of what this program really does. U.S. doctors come down here and train doctors in La Paz to crack open hearts and fix them.

The local ACOH will now take on all aspects of the management and medical development of the pediatric cardiac care program. LCCF, the impetus behind this pioneering work, will continue as the funding foundation for the project.

The funding, of course, is an ongoing problem as the Mexican national health care program doesn’t give resources to catastrophic illnesses, especially in small towns like ours. So, the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation is now on a continual money hunt to satisfy the beast they built. Enter Vanessa Figueroa, a local gal who went to school in Canada and married a Canadian before returning to put her education to good use in her home town.

Vanessa is out beating the bushes for money for the heart surgeries performed by the teams of Mexican and American doctors, and she’s got a good angle. Sure, she organizes the usual fund raisers like Cabo Wabo donated 100% of their cover charge last New Years Eve. Sabor de Cabo, the restaurant gala which is sold out every year, also gives a big percentage of their gate to Open Hearts. But every charity is hammering on every event for what inevitably is going to be small pieces of the pie. Through Vanessa, who is literally pounding the pavement calling on every large company, the Foundation is asking these companies to sign up for an easy payroll deduction plan.

Vanessa is asking that just one or two percent of their pay be taken out before the employee even sees it and gets used to having it. The money is automatically sent by the payroll department to Los Cabos Children’s Foundation to be used in their Open Heart program.

The first to sign up was Cabo Villas timeshare guys. And gals. We are going to show a heavy load of restraint here, and not criticize timeshare people in this entire article. This is very painful. Very. But Chris Erickson’s crew is pitching in for the kids, and they should be admired for that.

If you know a company that would be a good candidate for an easy payroll deduction plan aimed at helping the sickest of the local children, call Vanessa at 624 157 4014. Her email is venessa@loscaboschildren.org.