HISTORY OF A HOSPITAL IN GUATEMALA

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1 1 HISTORY OF A HOSPITAL IN GUATEMALA

2 2 MISSION To be an institution dedicated to serve and to help the community by providing high-quality medical assistance with human kindness. is in accordance with Through love be servants one to another and Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, knowing that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do. VISION To be the path towards good health in the southeast region of Guatemala, by assisting people in need of immediate medical assistance, regardless of their economic means.

3 3 PROLOGUE Dear Reader, While reading the summary of San Juan Bautista Hospital s history, located in the municipality of Jalpatagua, department of Jutiapa, Guatemala, Central America, where a group of hard-working and altruist people who believe in human unity do good deeds, you will learn that it was anything but easy to found this Health Institution. It is worthy of admiration and support, especially when considering that all expenses for the poorest people are waived. Knowing the path we had to go through to fulfil the dream that became true, where we are now, with entire humility I call for the attention of the authorities and all kind-hearted people to support this Health Institution, and to work hard in order to improve the wellness of the community. Sincerely, Alberto Mayen Secretary of the Board of Directors November 15 th, th Anniversary of the Hospital s inauguration. Whoever does not live to serve, then is no good to live Mother Theresa of Calcutta

4 4 A DREAM THAT BECAME TRUE The San Juan Bautista hospital was created with the main objective of being a Medical Institution that provides basic medical assistance in this region. Generally, people used to go to hospitals located in Cuilapa and in our neighbour country, El Salvador. Both hospitals were the closest and offered free service. FATHER JOSEPH WITH A GROUP OF CHILDREN. Luckily, a Maltese missionary, Father Joseph Camilleri, arrived at Jalpatagua in November 1992 to take over the Santo Tomas Apostol parish. During his pastoral work, he drew close to the community and learned about the health problems that the people suffered, particularly, those who lived in extreme poverty in remote villages. Medical assistance, as well as economic support, was given to the community with the well-appreciated assistance of foreign institutions. BUILDING A HOSPITAL FOR THE POOR In the year 2000, Father Jose became seriously sick and was taken to a hospital in Guatemala City. Doctors performed surgery on him and later on he was brought back to Jalpatagua for

5 5 his health recovery. It was not too long after Father Joseph s surgery when a friend of his became sick with the same disease Father Joseph had contracted, but since the family did not have the financial resources to take him to any hospital, he passed away. When Father Jose realized the reason why his beloved friend could not be taken to the hospital and had died, he started to dream about building a hospital for the poor in the community. He had land available which was used to produce grains and vegetables. With his dream in mind motivating him to build the hospital, he started to contact people, including Doctor Pablo Recinos. After several meetings, they founded the CONSTRUCTION PRO COMMITTEE, which became the most important step to help this dream become true. In the beginning, it was planned to build only a day-service hospital, which would include a small inpatient care unit and an operating theatre with anesthesia equipment donated by the Order of Malta, where minor surgeries could be performed. Doctor Pablo Recinos joined Father Jose in his enthusiastic journey. They united their efforts to head on the adventure that was just beginning and that could only be completed with the help of many kind people. This is how the Great Dream started to become true. BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Lic. Rolando Morales Carias First Vice-President: P.A.E Edwin Enrique Rueda Medrano Second Vice-President: Professor Carlota Rodenas Sanchez Secretary: P.C Jose Alberto Mayen Hernandez Treasurer: P.A.E Mariela Garcia Portillo Coordinator: Father Jose Camilleri OPEN AND CLOSED DOORS There were many obstacles to overcome since there were many closed doors when trying to obtain the help needed. But this was until the entire community joined in this Great Dream and it started to become true. Despite the limitations, plans for the construction of the hospital continued. A community that was used to the idea of never having medical assistance were now very grateful to Father Joseph, but he used to direct their gratitude to God by, saying: This is not my work, it s God s work, and we need to be grateful to Him.

6 6 The CONSTRUCTION PRO COMMITTEE inspected the land, looking for the best spot to build the hospital. After the inspection, they picked the right place to build it. This decision was authorized by Monsignor Julio Cabrera Ovalle, Bishop of the Diocese of Jalapa. GESTURES OF SOLIDARITY The committee drew and presented the procedures to create the commissions that were to supervise fundraising and fund auditing. Each commission had its own specific duties. These commissions were about to start a task that would require them to overcome many obstacles. They knocked on many doors, in the city as well as in the villages, asking for a helping hand. Doctor Pablo Recinos contacted Club De Leones Eterna Primavera, where many donations from other countries were received and managed, particularly, the ones coming from the Hospital of Iowa, USA. THE PROJECT S PATH It was the year 2003 already, and the project was still a Dream. Nevertheless, many other organizations joined the project in order to help it become true, a project aimed to help the neediest people in the community. It was necessary to formalize the committee s responsibilities in the project. Therefore, on September 27 th, 2003, the committee was formally established and registered as PRO CONSTRUCTION ASSOCIATION AND REGIONAL HOSPITAL SAN JUAN BAUTISTA S ADMINISTRATION. It was constituted: 1. By the Order of Malta: Economist Roberto Anibal Gramajo Robledo. 2. By the Parish Pastoral Council: Father Joseph Camilleri and Jose Alberto Mayen Hernandez. 3. By the Club de Leones de Guatemala Eterna Primavera: Lic. David Firon Ortiz and Berta Castellanos Arevalo. 4. By the Club de Leones Servidores de La Humanidad de Jalpatagua: Lic. Amanda Antonieta Sazo Hernandez and Edwin Enrique Rueda. 5. By the Local Committee: Lic, Edgar Rolando Morales Carias, and Nery Galicia. 6. By the Jalpataguan Fraternity: P.C Melving Amarildo Perez Corado and P.C Freddy Antonio Monroy Enriquez. 7. By the Professional Branch: Doctor Pablo Rene Recinos and Doctor Antonio Hernandez. Being organized in this way, the fund management started to operate; similarly, the materials and equipment management through the Order of Malta started running. It is very important to record the information that is part of the history of this project, which

7 7 nowadays is a Medical Institution that assists many people not only from Jalpatagua but from the departments of Jutiapa and Santa Rosa, as well as people from El Salvador. RECOGNITION In recognition of the selfless hard work made by the members of the Association, an engraved plaque was unveiled at the hospital s entrance, expressing thanks for their relentless and excellent work. The Association, directed by Mr. Roberto Gramajo Robledo, managed to find other financial sources which contributed to building the hospital. It is worth mentioning that the entire community joined together in this project; Father Joseph depended on the support of the people from the urban areas as well as people from remote villages. Many of them organized themselves into groups to collect funds of various amounts and to manage carefully the money to pay the builders and their teams. All of the donations received were carefully registered and recorded in a book. Thanks to all.

8 8 BLESSING AND LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THE HOSPITAL Sunday, December 7 th, :00AM 10:00AM 10:15AM A Mass was held at the Parish church, Santo Tomas Apostol. A walk was held with people carrying the stone that was to be placed in the area where the hospital chapel was to be built. a welcome speech was given by Alberto Mayen. Speech by the Order of Malta s representative, Enrique Hegel. Speech by the Mayor, Leonel Sazo. Speech by Father Jose Camilleri and the laying of the stone. The burden was not carried by Father Joseph alone; there was also the commitment of the people that worked hard to complete the construction of the hospital. Nevertheless, obstacles showed up throughout the construction. Some things were ready while other things would delay the construction due to financial reasons. To continue with the project, Father Joseph came back from Malta with architectural plans made by his architect friends Alfred Grech and Joseph Spiteri. These were used to build the hospital. With the design plans ready and with the strength that God had provided, construction finally started. The eyes of the community were cast on the construction site. Locals thought that it would be impossible to build this hospital. However, as the days passed by, the building started to take shape; the land where farmers used to plant grains and vegetables now was the land on which stood the building that would soon house ill people looking for humane high-quality medical assistance. On April 13 th 2004, the company that was hired to build the hospital started working on the project. The Association organized a gathering where they briefly commemorated the day of December 7 th 2003, when the foundation stone had been laid and how joyful was that day shared by many beloved people who had attended such an important event. A pre-inauguration of the hospital was celebrated on June 9 th 2006 to show the community that the SAN JUAN BAUTISTA HOSPITAL was ready to provide medical assistance. It was another joyful and colorful day, full of happiness, music, and food for the guests. The entire community from all the villages gathered together: students from all the schools, mayors from different counties, and community leaders, all of them were welcomed.

9 9 The event also was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Bruno Muzaro, the President of Guatemala Oscar Berger Perdomo, and the President of El Salvador Antonio Saca, each of them accompanied by their delegation. FATHER JOSEPH CAMILLERI S SPEECH This is the much-awaited day, the day we have improved significantly the development of a community, its wellness, and, most importantly, its health. I do well remember the day, about five years ago, when a beloved friend of mine passed away due to the lack of immediate medical assistance, leaving behind four orphan children and his wife. With a group of people, we started to create a plan for a small project and started to work diligently to make it happen. Today, with God s blessing, we can see with our own eyes that dreams can come true. The path was not easy, it was tiring, but there was also perseverance and a lot of prayers, and today, it s all a reality. We can now say it was all worth the effort. I feel that the good Lord remained close to us through the spiritual and moral support we received from de Jalapa s Diocese, with Monsignor Julio Cabrera and the entire community of Jalpatagua. PRESIDENT OSCAR BERGER S SPEECH After thanking Father Joseph for his hard work in order to improve and enrich the community with a health care center, President Berger stated that this Hospital was not only useful for the people of Guatemala, but also for our brother country El Salvador. He then thanked President Antonio Saca for his presence and promised to continue supporting the hospital. PRESIDENT ANTONIO SACA S SPEECH President Saca highlighted the importance of this project in the political field, not only because of the humanitarian help it would provide but as a great step in the cooperation among the communities of Central America. Without knowing, Father Jose had helped directly in this cooperation by building the hospital. In the same way, Guatemalans for many years had benefited from the medical system of El Salvador, now Salvadorians could benefit from Guatemala s medical system with high-quality medical assistance. APOSTOLIC NUNCIO S SPEECH On his part, the Apostolic Nuncio Bruno Muzaro regaled the gathering with his speech by giving a message of hope: My message will be brief. We have celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. When the Apostles were gathered together, a great wind blew over their heads. That

10 10 wind reached Malta, and with its power, sent Father Jose to Jalpatagua, to fulfill a dream: the building of a hospital, a miracle of hope for the many poor people in the area. DOCTOR PABLO RENE RECINOS SPEECH Father Jose and I met four years ago to make plans to build a hospital, a great task. Afterward, we started to discuss the idea and realized what was required: a hospital that would provide basic medical assistance for all of the people in need. We needed to feed the newborn as it was the result of a great plan; today we have available a hospital for Guatemalans as well as for Salvadorians. We will assist any person whatever his or her financial resources. We need your valuable help to continue doing it. It is a social investment that will benefit all of us. As an ad honorem director of this institution, I would like to make three promises: 1. We will always provide high-quality medical assistance. 2. Every penny that is donated will be carefully and transparently used. We will keep records of any transaction in a bank account created for the hospital. 3. This is our project, from and for all of us; if by any chance this project fails, it will not mean that Father Camilleri has failed; or that I will have failed; it means we will all have failed. After the speeches, the hospital was inaugurated by the symbolic act of cutting the ribbon by the residents and the Apostolic Nuncio proceeded to bless the building. Touring the building, they could see what equipment was still missing and they planned on how to provide the equipment needed. MAP OF AREA THE HOSPITAL COVERS

11 11 On September 9 th, 2006, the hospital was officially opened. Ever since, the inhabitants of Jutiapa and Santa Rosa started to receive medical assistance, especially Jalpatagua and its thirty-four villages. All of them began to benefit from the hospital. San Juan Bautista s Hospital opened its doors with the goal of providing medical assistance to the ill. It sought to employ qualified staff who understand the vision of the hospital, and aim at continuing to reach the targets needed to provide high-quality medical assistance at a low cost. On September 11 th, 2006 at 7:30 AM, just two days after the hospital had opened its doors, Maria Rivera gave birth to a baby boy, whom she named Juanito, mindful of the patron saint of the hospital. Everybody was filled with excitement and gratitude to God because this was the first baby born in the hospital. Juanito s mother and grandmother were filled with joy. It really was an emotional moment; the staff was immensely satisfied as well. Monsignor Julio Cabrera was at the hospital that day. He congratulated the mother and blessed the baby. A new era had begun; that day was the real inauguration of life. It is worth mentioning that the first surgery was successfully performed on September 12 th, It was also a reason to be thankful to God for blessing the hospital and allowing the first-ever surgery in the hospital to be successful. This surgery was just the first one of a long list that nowadays is being performed by the surgeons. This is another reason for joy. Today, people are being served at the Emergency Room, a working Outpatient Unit, and an Operating Theatre. The most important thing is that all patients are being treated by qualified doctors and nurses, providing the medical assistance that all patients deserve.

12 12 SPECIAL THANKS DOCTOR PABLO RENE RECINOS A humble person, with endless kindness, humble from the heart, a people s man whose ambitions are always to help the poorest of the poor who turn to him for help. Meeting with the President of Guatemala, Oscar Berger Perdomo. Also in the picture: Monica Castillo, Roberto Gramajo, Father Joseph, and Doctor Pablo Rene Recinos. On August 20 th, 2006, Guatemala s President, Oscar Berger Perdomo, came to visit the hospital once more. His objective was to offer whatever was needed to complete the project. People from different villages were part of an act, in which Father Jose Camilleri had the opportunity to ask the President for Q3,000, (three million Quetzales) to complete the project. The President offered Q5,000, (five million Quetzales). This was an amazing response from the President, an exciting announcement for all of the members of the Association and all the people involved in the project. THE CENTRAL AMERICAN BANK FOR ECONOMIC INTEGRATION The Central American Bank for Economic Integration was also a great help. It showed its support by donating Q3,000, (three million Quetzales). With this money, Section C and D of the hospital could be built. In the name of all the people that are beneficiaries of

13 13 our services, we thank this bank for their help and support; we ask God to bless all the people involved who made this donation possible. EVANGELICAL CHURCH: ASAMBLEA DE DIOS SAMARIA DE JALPATAGUA We would like to thank our beloved brothers and sisters from the Evangelical Church Asamblea de Dios Samaria de Jalpatagua, that were involved in this project. In the name of all the people that are benefiting, we express our appreciation. Rest assured that God will compensate, all your efforts with many blessings. JUAN JOSE SERRA CASTILLO A man with a big heart who selflessly helped in this project, help that has now turned into the good health of those that could not financially afford to be taken to hospital and be treated there. In the name of the entire community of Jalpatagua, and all the beneficiaries, we thank you heartily, Jose. MR. ALBERTO MAYEN Mr. Mayen served as a Secretary in different committees and associations of the hospital, helping and relentlessly working within the organization. We sincerely thank him for his work and for being a good friend. In the name of the community, we thank you a lot, Beto. MALTA It is through the people of Malta that the hospital continues to provide medical supplies and medical equipment as well as free labor. Special thanks to Mission Fund (Malta) Ministry Of Foreign Affairs and Community Chest (Malta)

14 14 THE AMBASSADOR OF TAIWAN We would like to thank the people of Taiwan for donating an ambulance. It is very useful to carry patients from one place to another. Their well-appreciated donation is of great help to provide better medical assistance to all patients. NATAL FALZON Picture of one of the families helped by Natal.

15 15 We would like to mention the remarkable work that Mr Natal Falzon from the Island of Malta performed while on his visit to the hospital, together with a group of nurses and doctors, also from Malta, in June They provided medical assistance to up to 1,500 people during their 3-month stay in Azulzo, one of the poorest villages in the North East of Guatemala City. We wish we could mention all the Maltese people who contributed to the project. Unfortunately, it is too hard to mention all of them; however, we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the people of Malta for the important work they did. SURGEONS PERFORMING A SURGERY Also, we would like to thank all the foreign doctors who have visited the hospital many times to do social work: Dave and Betsy Rowekamp; Michael and Barbara Sarr, Carlos Puig, Benjamin Zendejas, Matthew Armstrong, David Salls, Diane Bohn, Kris Schroder, Wilfried Hahn, Larry Converse, Mary Ellen Dreher, Brian Roebak and Michael Zammit. We would also like to thank the architects that drew the original building design plans: Architect Joseph Spiteri (Maltese), Architect Alfred Grech (Maltese), Father Tito Leiva and Lic. Rolando Morales.

16 16 OTHER INSTITUTIONS INVOLVED - Caritas Arquidiocesana Guatemala - Sovereign Order of Malta - Central American Bank for Economic Integration BCIE - Lions Club Eterna Primavera - Rotary Club ( Guatemala City) It is very difficult to mention all of the institutions that were involved in this project, but we would like to thank all of them and we pray to God to multiply all the donations they made. With the help of those donations, the hospital is standing where it is now. SOURCE OF EMPLOYMENT Many people who live in Jalpatagua s villages, including masons, masons assistants, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and many others were employed in this project. Ever since the hospital was built, it has been a source of employment for the community. Up to 2013, 39 people were hired and were working for the hospital, while some 15 people were temporarily hired as needed. HOW THE HOSPITAL IS SUSTAINED To keep the hospital working, funds are needed to pay for operational costs and maintenance. This is why we need to ask the patients for a small amount of money for medical consultation, X-rays, laboratory exams, ultrasound, and pharmacy service. We need to pay salaries to the employees, doctors and services suppliers. We need to cover basic costs in the hospital. Therefore, we know that our patients are aware of the need to make a small donation. Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, in special cases, some patients are partially or fully exempted from paying any fees, depending on the results of a means test. This is done whenever the patient asks to be exempted. When a patient is received at the emergency room, this immediately generates a cost for the hospital. As the hospital is a non-profit institution, one needs to be aware that NOT all the money needed comes from donations. Even though a big part of our income comes from donations made by international institutions and people with a good heart that know our needs, we still have other expenses to cover. These include the salaries of the employees, doctors, an anesthesiologist (hired when necessary), as well as the cost of medical and management equipment maintenance.

17 17 CRITICAL ASPECT We do not receive financial help from the government to pay off the costs for providing the community s medical needs. Generally, the people that require medical assistance in this hospital are from rural areas, and many of them are exempt from payment. A small percentage of patients come from urban areas. Moreover, we assist a large number of patients in the emergency room who end up in the inpatient care unit. BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Father Jose Camilleri. Vice-President: Lic. Dina Judith Florian Asencio. Secretary: Lic. Marvin Francisco Enriquez Garcia. Treasurer: Jose Alberto Mayen Hernandez. Vowel I: Guillermo Enrique Alvarado Flores. Vowel II: Adolfo Anibal Salguero Carrillo. Vowel III: Rosa Angela Donado Espinoza de Mendez The board of directors operates for terms of four years, supporting the hospital in all aspects. After telling this story that is full of bravery, a credit to Father Camilleri, Doctor Pablo Recinos, Juan Serra, and all the people who believed in and strived for the building the hospital, we will now talk about the units that are currently functioning in the hospital. EMERGENCY ROOM (E.R.) Here there are doctors and nurses available 24/7. The patient receives a complete medical examination, and depending on the results, it is determined whether the patient should be treated at the E.R, or needs to be sent to the inpatient care unit for a longer period of time. In cases that are more complex, the patient is stabilized in the hospital and then taken by ambulance to another hospital that is equipped with more specialized facilities, able to offer a higher level of medical assistance. The E.R. is well equipped to assist all kinds of emergencies. It is equipped with six stretchers and compartments separated by screens for better privacy. The E.R. also houses a well-equipped isolated observation room for the care of patients that need to be observed.

18 18 OUTPATIENT UNIT In this unit, patients recovering from chronic but stable diseases are treated. Usually, a follow-up is given to those recovering after leaving the inpatient care unit. GYNECOLOGY UNIT The purpose of this unit is to assist women with reproductive health and disease prevention. The mission of this unit is to provide health services to the female community by assisting them with pre-and post-natal treatment. We can say that. this is one of the strictest units in the hospital. It is open 24/7. PEDIATRIC UNIT From the time when we are born until our elderly years, we all need a doctor to guide us in taking care of our health. The pediatric unit provides specialized medical assistance to newborns and to children of any age to help them to prevent and to cure any disease.

19 19 RADIOLOGY UNIT Dr. Jose Manuel Junior Diaz, the radiology specialist, is available every Wednesday from 1:00 pm to perform ultrasound and X-ray exams of any kind. TRAUMATOLOGY UNIT No person is free of the possibility of suffering an accident at any place, including our homes. Thus, the Traumatology unit is available every Wednesday, from 1:00 pm. GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE UNIT The General Internal Medicine unit is available from Monday to Friday. A large number of patients visit this unit on a daily basis. Thanks to the passionate interest with which the doctor treats the patients, their satisfaction is assured. GENERAL SURGERY UNIT All the patients who have been treated in this unit have left the room completely satisfied with the procedures performed on them. It is gratifying to see the happy faces on the families of those who underwent surgery. For the staff of San Juan Bautista Hospital, believers in the Almighty God, every surgery completed is a great reason to be thankful to Him. It is very satisfying to see the patients health restored after they have undergone surgery. PSYCHOLOGY UNIT Mental and behavioral health is very important for humanity; therefore, we also provide a Psychology unit. According to the doctors, it is very important to take care of our mental health, which is why we provide this service at the hospital. Children and adults with different behavior and personality problems are helped until these are resolved.

20 20 INPATIENT CARE UNIT The hospital boasts of a spacious inpatient area, with comfortable rooms, where all the patients are taken care of with high-quality nurse-care. All the patients in the inpatient care unit communicate directly to the nurse station so they can request and obtain the help needed whenever they require it. CHAPEL This is the hospital s sentinel, where Jesus keeps filling us with His love. A holy place, where we can communicate with God in our quest for good health.

21 21 CONCLUSIONS If you are one of those who contributed to this project, you may now feel satisfied; all of your efforts have turned into a Medical Institution, where each patient is treated with human warmth and high professionalism regardless of their economic situation. Rest assured that your contributions are and will always be generating good results. MEDICAL CLINIC, AN EXTENSION OF SAN JUAN BAUTISTA HOSPITAL On November 15 th, 2011, a Medical Clinic, which is an extension of the hospital, opened its doors in the county seat of Jutiapa to draw medical services closer to the community and offer them better care. The people who visit this clinic receive medical attention and, if necessary, are taken to the hospital at any time by ambulance. This clinic is staffed by a doctor, a nurse, and a manager. It offers general medicine, laboratory, ultrasounds, electrocardiograms, and a pharmacy. This is how the long history of San Juan Bautista Hospital can be summarized. We apologize to those who contributed to the project without being mentioned. We would have had to include an enormous list of the names of all the people involved. However, we assure you that God will reward you all. This history has been told is for you to understand that this is a dream that became true. Like any other institution, we have our weaknesses, but we work hard to overcome them and be stronger. We can see many acts of solidarity shining on this journey. There was a lot of hard work, and many people gave themselves entirely to the project. There was also a lot of love, a quality that is a major pillar for this institution. All this turned into a service that brings life, health, and hope for people in need. We can say that, in summary, San Juan Bautista Hospital is a completed project that was created out of the community s needs, born from a dream of an altruistic man who has spent his life working for the people s good, especially for people who have been marginalized and abandoned. It has been more than ten years since the day when a group of people with a good heart gathered together and started planning to make a dream come true: to build a hospital, to be useful, to cater to people s medical needs, to improve the wellness of the people living in the east of the country. Today, our dream has become true and is real. As Cardinal Sunens stated: Happy are those who dream dreams, and are ready to pay for their dreams. SAN JUAN BAUTISTA HOSPITAL, WHERE YOUR HEALTH IS OUR COMMITMENT

22 22 FATHER JOSEPH CAMILLERI: WITH POPE FRANCIS December 12 th, 2013.

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