Volunteer at Hospitalito Atitlán for a Life-Changing Experience

Hospitalito Atitlán is a small private nonprofit hospital serving 75,000 Maya living on the southern shore of beautiful Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands. The Hospitalito provides inpatient and outpatient services at our modern facility with an emphasis on women and children. The Hospitalito offers the only 24/7 emergency and surgical obstetric care within a two-hour radius. Staff also provides services to residents of outlying areas at community outreach clinics. Most of our patients have limited income. Their care is subsidized by donor support.

Make a Difference

From the very beginning, volunteers have worked alongside the medical staff and citizens of Santiago Atitlán.  COVID-19 restrictions allow entry two weeks after full-vaccination or with a negative PCR or Antigen test.  Documentation must be presented at the airport where security measures are sound without being onerous.  The Hospitalito volunteer program consists of six components:

  1. Medical Volunteers: The Hospitalito welcomes specialists (including residents and fellows) in every discipline, however our greatest need is for family practitioners, OB/GYNS, pediatricians and urologists. We also welcome nurses, nutritionists, acupuncturists and other care providers. Medical volunteers are integral members of our healthcare team, enhancing our medical care delivery with energy, enthusiasm and added skills. 
  2. Surgical Teams: Visiting surgical teams provide short-term, specialty care otherwise unavailable to our patients. Every team must have a minimum of two Spanish-speaking members.
  3. Service Teams: A service team focuses on improving the quality of health and life for local children and their families. It is made up of non-medical volunteers who either accompany a Surgical Team or come as an independent group.
  4. Medical Students/Recent Graduates: Medical students are welcomed on a limited basis. Those with at least one full year of clinical experience may apply as a medical student. Individuals who have worked independently may apply to be a medical volunteer.
  5. Medical Research/Investigations: Researchers can apply to perform studies of a minimum of three and maximum of six months in affiliation with the Hospitalito. Our executive director must approve all research projects.
  6. Non-medical Volunteers: Groups and individuals can apply to support the Hospitalito working in a range of areas from the development office to administration to operations.

Experience Natural Beauty, Continual Springtime Weather & Maya Culture

Bring your family: Guatemala is a great place for children —they can immerse themselves in a different culture and learn to speak Spanish! The Hospitalito can provide contacts of baby-sitters and help coordinate enrichment programs for children of short-term volunteers. Long-term volunteers with children can take advantage of several bilingual English/Spanish primary school in Santiago Atitlán or a high school across the lake in Panajachel.

Guatemala is the home of Maya civilization: For six centuries, the Maya built vast cities, immense temples and looming pyramids, recording their history in hieroglyphs on stone monuments on pottery, and in bark books. The history of this great society lives in the Guatemalan rainforests, a UNESCO World Cultural Site. Its culture lives in its descendants, who make up a majority of Guatemala’s citizens.

Physical Beauty & Biodiversity: Guatemala hosts incredible physical beauty and one of the largest biological diversities in the world. It includes 18 ecosystems, over 300 microclimates, and more than 37 volcanoes, several of which are still active. Some 15 percent of the nation is part of the biosphere with large areas that are legally protected. Guatemala is a UNESCO World Natural Reserve.

Santiago Atitlán offers a microcosm of Guatemala’s natural and cultural legacy: The town is located on beautiful Lake Atitlán, nestled between three volcanoes. The scenery is breathtaking, and 98% indigenous cities Maya culture is evident in language, clothing, cuisine and customs.

Do You Treat Spanish-Speaking Patients? The Hospitalito’s 26-credit CME/CNE Spanish & Cultural Immersion Course will not only improve your medical Spanish, but also provide exposure to the culture and customs in a Central American community. Credits are provided by Penn Medicine. The course is perfect for doctors, nurses and physician assistants who have mastered basic Spanish communication and would like to immerse themselves in the language in a Maya culture setting.

Make a Donation: Whether you can take time to volunteer or not, please consider making a donation. In 2018, the Hospitalito spent over $205,000 on free and discounted care for our patients who otherwise could not afford services. When an emergency room visit costs $10 and the average cost of a C-Section is $500, this amounts to thousands of patients helped in a year. This is only possible with your support.