Newsletter April 2010
Happy Birthday Hospitalito!
Greetings from Santiago Atitlán!
In April, we are celebrating Hospitalito’s FIFTH birthday! It is hard to believe so much time has passed. The challenges the Hospitalito has faced have only made it stronger. Each year we are serving more patients and now there are more than 15,000 patient files. Hundreds of volunteers have given generously of themselves to the people of Lake Atitlán and many are returning. We have come a long way since opening in Panabaj. But, as we all know… all five-year olds need lots of help and support in order to grow up strong and healthy. Hospitalito Atitlan has thrived in its first five years thanks to you, our steadfast and generous supporters. Without the help of each of you, we never could have reached this far.
Won’t you join us in the celebration? Perhaps you can invite your book club, church group, or neighbors to chip in on a birthday present to keep Hospitalito Atitlan going strong! Or perhaps you or your family will make a donation to help us continue to provide high-quality, affordable health care to Guatemala’s poor. Add an extra $0.05 to let us know you’re sending a birthday gift!
Treasurer, Asociación K´aslimaal
It Takes a Team to Save a ChildSome nights are longer than others, and it takes a team to get through them. Josh Bress, a pediatrician from the University of California San Francisco, saw a challenging night twice during his six weeks of volunteer service at Hospitalito Atitlán. In both cases, newborn babies had trouble breathing on their own.
“Hospitalito has everything you need for getting resuscitation started,” Dr. Josh Bress said. “In the U.S. though, we would have put the baby in a ventilator, whereas here we did the work manually. It took a team of three doctors and two nurses working throughout the whole night to keep one baby alive.”
In addition to directly saving the babies in critical condition, Dr. Bress taught Hospitalito staff how they could save babies in the future, even with few resources, and that it takes the devotion of all to save one. For a few hours every week, he trained the hospital staff in neonatal resuscitation. Soon, the training was converted to real-life experience.
For Dr. Bress, it was different to work with so many of the patients’ family members present.
“The grandmother is particularly important, and she forms a special attachment with the baby. At Hospitalito, the family was able to see what quality medical care is about… that five people will work all night on one tiny patient. They were very respectful of the hospital staff. The grandparents saw that people were working hard,” Dr. Bress said.
One of the new mothers, Concepción Marroquín Reanda, was asked about her experience. She had the added stress of a c-section due to pre-eclampsia.
“I was prepared for a normal delivery, but I got scared when the doctor told me I needed to get ready for a cesarean. My mother was with me, and she helped me by telling me to be strong and brave,” Concepción remembered. “I was brought into the operating room, and in just a few minutes my son Domingo Abraham was born. The pediatrician began to treat my baby because he was not doing very well."
Concepción’s mother said she felt nervous when she saw the baby being separated from his mother. “I thought he was dead, but then I noticed that he was receiving medical attention,” she said.
Dominic Lang, a medical student from University of Queensland in Australia, was called into the hospital that night.
“Whatever happened surpassed any language barrier; we all understood the essence of what was going on, and we understood the family’s appreciation,” he said. In both cases, the babies were the mother’s firstborn.
“In one of the cases, the daddy was involved. He could witness the baby’s need and see it being worked on. There were lots of emotions,” Dominic Lang said. The medical team had to rely on their own clinical judgment to decide when the babies were strong enough to breathe by themselves, and when it was time to pull out the endotracheal tubes.
“As a student here, I learned to emphasize clinical knowledge instead of jumping straight to x-rays and lab tests,” Dominic said.
A few weeks after the traumatic nights, Dr. Bress feels blessed. “You still worry about the patient the next day, and a week later, but this turned out well, so it was very satisfying,” he said. Both patients returned for check-ups, which to Dr. Bress was an indication of confidence in the treatment offered.
“The truth is that I was scared and felt bad because of the surgery, but I am so grateful to the medical staff that saved my baby’s life. Thank God that my baby developed well, and was released after a physical exam,” said Concepción Marroquín Reanda. Her son, Domingo Abraham, is now two months old, and Concepción is very grateful for the good service offered at the hospital.
“The culture and the belief system of the people that live here is so unique,” Dr. Bress said, “but whenever you deal with children, parenthood is universal. You want the children to be free of pain and live happily. We have to remember that relatively simple things can have huge impacts on people’s lives.”
And what would have happened without hospitalito?
“Both babies would have died,” Dr. Bress answered without hesitation.
Hooray! Fundraising for Phase II is Complete!
Phase II Construction In Progress. In December we asked for your support to complete Phase II of the construction of Hospitalito Atitlán. Thanks to all of you who stepped up to challenge, we have now reached this goal! The Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma gave us an extra push, by generously providing the funds needed to complete the second story roof. As always, all construction donations have been matched by the Kendeda Fund. To date, this incredible fund has donated a total of $444,342 towards the construction. We are so grateful for their amazing support.
In the fall of 2010, when Phase II is completed. the Hospitalito staff will say goodbye to the former backpackers hostel that has been its home for five years and will move into a modern, fully equipped beautiful new facility with double the current space. At that time, we will take a break from construction and focus on securing operating support while we are getting used to our new building and the expanded space.
Again our heartfelt thanks for all you have done to make this happen. With your continued kind support , Hospitalito Atitlán will be able to provide life giving, life saving medical services to the good people of Lake Atitlan.
From the Desk of Dr. ChucWe are entering the second quarter of the year 2010. April 1st marked the five year anniversary of the grand opening of Hospitalito Atitlán in the old Panabaj hospital building. Since that time, every day still presents a challenge for our small hospital. However, thanks to the support of all individuals, national and foreign institutions, we see that our efforts have been rewarded. We are able to provide quality care to the community every day at the same time that we are building a new permanent hospital. Everyone's help is much appreciated.
Today, I want to recognize:
* Dr. Brent Burket and Dra. Jennifer Theone, who arrived about a month ago with their four small children. They will live in Santiago Atitlán and work with the Hospitalito for three years, thanks to the support of Mission Doctors in California. * We recently received a big donation of surgical supplies from the International Humanitarian Surgical Team in Chimaltenango. This donation will serve the hospital for many years. * Bill Cuneo and his friends in Faifax CA sent a container of supplies, medical equipment, beds and other materials and funded a second container from Medshare. * The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City donated the funding needed to complete Phase II of the new hospital building. * And most recently Sal and Maru Danial made a significant contribution through the Samir D. Gergis Charitable Trust to the Hospitalito´s operations.I want to express my sincere gratitude to all, because your help ensures the sustainability of our beloved health care center in Santiago Atitlán.
Dr. Juan Manuel Chuc
Director, Hospitalito Atitlán