As cleft patients around the world have had their treatment plans put on hold, clinicians everywhere are identifying innovative ways to transition to virtual care. In Nicaragua, Operation Smile’s cleft center has exemplified some of those innovative models, by transitioning consultations and therapy to phone calls. In particular, our speech therapy program, led by Scarlette Gomez, has tried anything that helps an individual patient. Scarlette explained some of these innovations:
We’re doing as much as we can. We’re doing the online video calls. We’re doing phone calls. We’re sending them through WhatsApp or whatever platform we can use to get to give them stuff like videos and interactive games and pictures or exercises if they can practice. So, it’s all on hand, and what I’ve what they’ve been telling me, for the little ones, they’re really enjoying that their parents are home. And because they don’t have to go to school right now or just like are doing little assignments for school. The parents and kids are spending way more time together. The parents are seeing progress with them, because they know they are the ones that have to do it with them. At the clinic, it’s me or any of the volunteers doing it with the kid and they’re just watching. But now, they are the ones that have to understand and be able to practice whatever we are doing with the kid, so that makes it a lot more understandable and they get way more fun out of that experience.