Undated letter from Phyllis Chaikin to parents

P. O. 893 Georgetown
Guyana, South America

The Alexanders
2265 Micheltorena
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Dear Folks–

Have not heard from you – mail to interior is delayed. I wonder how you are doing. I am particularly concerned about Dad’s health and would like more details. The children are doing very well. David is studying animal husbandry. Gail has shown strength in math and physical science and might go into engineering. Gene is doing mostly agricultural planning. Would you believe it I am administering the entire medical health staff at Jonestown. We have a fine young doctor, 2 nurse practitioners and a number of RNs and LVNs. Bright young people the doctor and I are training our Health Care workers. The [They] are becoming integrated in the whole health process here. They go to every residence in in Jonestown twice a day to make sure everyone is ok – they have been trained to do monthly breast exams. Two were in Lamaze classes when the first baby was born at Jonestown which was a highlight in my life – I was the circulating nurse. As you can imagine – it is very exciting and educational to oversee such a progressive system.

I think of you frequently –


* * * * *



Our medical staff presently includes a doctor, a family nurse practitioner, a pediatric nurse practitioner, a respiratory therapist, a pharmacist, a pharmacist assistant, seven registered nurses, six licensed vocational nurses, a family planning specialist, two laboratory technicians, an X-ray technician, and a dental assistant.

Our doctor sees about thirty patients a day. He makes visits to the nearby community of Port Kaituma where he holds a clinic for the residents. He has particular interest in parasites of the North West Region, and is presently doing research on the subject.

We have a main medical office where people come for care. We are a combination first-aid station and medical-surgical clinic. Our staff sees between one hundred and fifty and two hundred patients a day; many of them are seen for multiple treatments. We have a special care unit in which we admit people with critical medical problems. Our facilities are opened to all people in the surrounding region.

Weights are taken weekly on everyone in Jonestown and blood pressures on those of twelve years of age and up. Blood pressures are taken three times a day on high-risk patients. Breast exams are done monthly on all females ages sixteen and up. Pap smears and prostate exams are done routinely by the doctor and family nurse practitioner. There is also an exercise class for overweight people.

We are planning to build a care center for some of our senior citizens who need extra help. The great majority of older people here do well in the tropical climate, participate actively in our community, and are productive and happy.

We have a fine obstetrical team which delivers babies to women of the North West Region. Nine of the women in our immediate community are expecting within the next two months. Expectant couples take classes in LaMaze technique, an effective method of natural delivery developed in France. The babies we deliver enter life viable and healthy. The mother and child are followed up on a regular basis through our postpartum and under-five clinics.

Our nursery currently cares for twenty-one babies up to three years of age. We are in the process of extending our facility. One wing for infants up to nine months has been completed. Another wing will have babies through eighteen months, and another will care for children from eighteen months through three years. Twenty-four hour a day care is provided so that parents working any shift can be assured of care for their children at all times. The pediatric nurse practitioner checks the babies twice a day. We have shift report and charting. There are weekly in-service meetings in which child development, behavior and care are discussed.

The babies and children are given complete exams monthly, bi-monthly or every three to six months depending on age or medical condition. We provide the recommended vaccines. The pediatric population is screened regularly to rule out anemia and tuberculosis. We also investigate all pediatric, opthomalogic, cardiopulmonary, and auditory abnormalities.

The ‘toddler’ program currently consists of thirty-two children and is arranged similar to the nursery. We are in the process of constructing a larger building and another playground. We have seen children from Port Kaituma and have been involved in the treatment of malnutrition, dehydration, amoebic dysentary [dysentery], scabies, infantile gastroenteritis, and ova and parasites. Just recently we have cared for a pair of twins who came to us from Port Kaituma at four months of age weighing a little more than their birth weight. One was sent to Georgetown and proved too weak to survive. The other did well in our nursery and is presently up to the normal weight for child his age.

Because of our entire medical screening program, many people have been found who needed treatment. Serious problems have been prevented from progressing because of early diagnosis.

The medical staff teaches several classes geared towards health education. First aid and personal hygiene classes are presented in our school to our children. A class for health care workers is offered in the high school in which students are taught anatomy and physiology and learn how to perform simple nursing procedures. Health care workers are assigned different residences and check them morning and night to see if anyone is ill and to record their findings in a special notebook which a supervising nurse checks routinely. The staff itself has in-service education three times weekly. Many of the nurses have been taught how to suture to [so] that they can manage minor cuts and lacerations. There have been lectures on round worm infection, diagnosis and treatment of bacterial skin infections, mental state examinations, neurological assessment, urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis, and hepatitis.

Our medical services have been highly regarded for many years in the United States. Awards have been given for our facilities and care. Through the years, the Rev. Jim Jones has insisted on the highest possible level of health maintenance in his immediate and wider community.

Our work has not only been a weapon against disease and disability, but, on a larger scale, against fascism. Recently, Mrs. Rosalynn [Rosalyn] Carter, wife of President Jimmy Carter, wrote to the United States Social Security commission supporting our efforts. We of the medical staff plan to continue to expand our efforts, working round the clock to assist in furthering the health and well-being of the residents in this region.