What We Do

Hospitalito Atitlán (HA), a small private nonprofit hospital, provides access to preventive and clinical healthcare - with an emphasis on the medical needs of women and children - to 75,000 Maya living on the southern shore of beautiful Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands. HA has the only 24/7 emergency and surgical obstetrical care within a two-hour radius.

Our dedicated staff is made up of local physicians, nurses and administrators who work hand-in-hand with international volunteer medical professionals to bring quality care to the community. HA promotes ongoing medical education for Guatemalan and international health professionals, which helps to improve the region's quality of life.

Many of our patients cannot afford care. In 2015, the hospital underwrote over $103,000 in free/discounted medical care plus $50,000 in free diabetes detection and education.

Our Services

Clinics

Fees

  • for each clinic visit - Q25 (US $3.00)
  • for specialist clinic consultation - Q50 (US $6.00)
  • for each emergency room admission - Q50 (US $6.00)
  • for each x-ray - Q75 (US $10.00)
  • Foreigners/tourists pay double these fees.
  • Department of Social Work determines discount eligibility.
Outpatient clinical services

Hospitalito Atitlán has outpatient clinic weekdays from 8:30 - 5:00 pm (or whenever the last patient is seen). It is very difficult to get patients to come in unless they are sick, so screening and identification of high-risk individuals is done during every visit.

Medical staff sees patients in three examining rooms, providing acute/urgent care and preventive and treatment services for a wide range of ailments:

Adults
  • Chronic illnesses
    • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD/"EPOC") - especially common in women who spend much of their time over wood fires
    • Wound care ("curacion")
    • Diabetes - Type 2
  • Pap smears
  • Cellulitis and abscesses
  • Gastritis/GERD (often H. pylori positive)
  • Hypertension
  • Intestinal parasites (ascaris, giardia, and entomoeba histolytica are endemic)
  • Non-tropical, altitude-related infectious diseases
  • Pneumonia
Children
  • Acute diarrhea with/without dehydration
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Colds
  • Dermatological conditions
  • Intestinal Parasites (Ascaris, giardia, and entomoeba histolytica are endemic)
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Malnutrition (Caused by replacing healthy foods with soda and junk food)
  • Otitis Media
Pre-Natal

Our prenatal consultations are available daily.

Common problems treated include:
  • Grand multips
  • Need for slow prim-ip induction
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Pre-existing/Gestational Diabetes
Emergency Room/Inpatient Services

The fee for emergency room visits is Q50 (US $6.25)

The Hospitalito provides a full-range of emergency and inpatient services including:

  • Defibrillation
  • EKG
  • Intubation (We do not have a ventilator for transfer)
  • Lumbar Puncture
  • Nebulization
  • Paracentesis/Thoracentisis/Chest Tubes
  • Suturing
We also provide obstetric services (depending on the staff on-hand):
  • Cesarean section
  • Cystocele repair, bladder suspension
  • Dilation and curettage
  • Fetal Monitoring
  • Fibroidectomy
  • Hysterectomy
  • Induction with Misoprostol or Pitocin
  • Magnesium infusion
  • Tubal ligation
  • Ultrasound
  • Umbilical artery/vein catheterization
  • Vaginal deliveries, with suction and forceps if required

Common conditions seen in the ER and requiring inpatient care include:

  • Abscesses, cellulitis
  • Alcohol withdrawal (Treated with thiamine and diazepam)
  • Chest pain
  • Dehydration (Usually resulting from acute diarrhea)
  • Diarrhea (Often due to intestinal parasites -ascaris, giardia, and entomoeba histolytica are endemic.)
  • High fever
  • Hypo- or hyperglycemia
  • Obstetrics
  • Pneumonia, bronchiolitis (Possibly caused by TB)
  • Respiratory crises (Exacerbations of asthma or COPD)
  • Seizures (febrile, epileptic)
  • Sepsis (Including neonatal)
  • Trauma (From motor vehicle accidents, machete wounds and interpersonal violence)
  • Vomiting

Our New Building

The new Hospitalito Atitlán is 25,000 square feet and serves over 1,000 patients a month. The new facility became a reality with the opening of its first floor on November 19, 2010 and second floor on December 17, 2011.

Located on the road between San Lucas Tolimán and Santiago Atitlán, the hospital includes:

  • Four emergency bays
  • Four labor and delivery beds
  • Five patient consultation rooms
  • A surgical suite with two operating rooms
  • Pre- and post-op rooms
  • Two physician on-call rooms
  • 16 inpatient beds
  • Handicapped access provided by a small chairlift on the stairs
  • Pharmacy
  • Laboratory
  • Radiology department
  • Medical Library
  • Central sterile supply and central supply departments central sterile supply
  • Laundry
  • Kitchen
  • Administrative/development offices

The facility is graced with natural spaces, including a maternity garden with private walkway and green space on top of the building.

Hospitalito Atitlán is energy efficient. Solar water heaters are used, and 700 solar panels reduce the electrical costs. In addition, the facility has an oxygen generator, water purification system and battery and generator backup for the electrical system.

We have more than 40 employees including physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and administrative staff. Volunteer medical personnel from around the word compliment existing staff, providing added clinical and research expertise.

Hospitalito Atitlán has working relationships with two US universities - University of Pennsylvania Guatemalan Health Initiative (since 2005) and University of Virginia Service/Language/Culture program for fourth year medical students. In addition, Guatemalan universities - Hospital Materna Infantil Juan Pablo II, Universidad Landivar and Universidad Mariano Galvez - have working agreements with HA.

Our patients

Many of the people we serve struggle daily to put food on the table, which is why they often ignore medical problems until they become life threatening. Infant and maternal mortality in Sololá is among the highest in the Americas. Sixty-seven (67) percent of Maya children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

In the past, members of the community had to travel to the national hospital in Sololá, an arduous two hour trip - assuming that roads were passable and free from mudslides and debris. Even so, few or none of the staff there speak Tz'utujil. The long journey could be the difference between life and death for a woman in complicated labor or a very sick child. For too long, many local residents chose to remain and die at home rather than make the difficult journey.

Hospitalito Atitlán has provided the community with access to quality healthcare from professionals who speak their language. Committed to making services affordable to everyone, our social workers evaluate patient and family resources and, if needed, provide free medical care for those with limited resources.

The health problems in the Atitlán area reflect those found in other poverty-stricken areas. Children suffer from significant respiratory and diarrheal illnesses as well as the chronic effects of malnutrition. Obstetrical issues are often complex with high levels of pre-eclampsia. Social issues impact the health of both mothers and their babies. Adults suffer from diabetes, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), caused by open cook fires at home.

Since more than 60 percent of our patients speak only the local Mayan dialect, Hospitalito staff work with patients and medical volunteers, translating between Tz'utujil and Spanish.

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