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Guatemala Update

By Donna Connell

Dr. Jose Miguel sends activities report for medical clinics

Dr. Jose Miguel, director of the health program in the Guatemala mission, recently sent a report detailing the 2021 activities and finances for the four medical clinics located in Novillero, Nahualá, New Ixtahuacan, and Old Ixtahuacan.

Some activities, such as routine childhood vaccination clinics, were curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; despite that, a total of 4740 patients were seen during the year for various medical needs. Care was provided through clinic consultations, TDA (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccines for pregnant women, and home visits. Fifty-four families, infected with COVID-19, received at at-home care which included groceries as well as medicine.

Appropriate COVID-19 protocols were taken at the medical clinics, schools, and churches.  Vaccines became available on a limited basis during 2021, and towards the end of the year vaccines were available for children twelve and older.

In addition to the regular medical consultations, 1080 patients were referred to the laboratory in the Nahuala clinic for testing. Due to the need for additional laboratory access, Dr. Jose Miguel established another laboratory in the clinic in Novillero with plans to expand.

Nurse Francisca Tambriz Sohom assists at the Novillero clinic allowing Dr. Jose Miguel to travel to the other clinics on a regular basis. Trained health professionals similarly assist at the other three clinics. Consultations often begin with prayer, and include advice and instruction on nutrition, parenting and medical issues.

By the end of 2021, Dr. Jose Miguel arranged for a dentist to come to the Novillero clinic two days a week. The new dentist treated twenty-six patients with dental fillings, extractions, and cleanings.

The area around all four towns with clinics is extremely mountainous, making travel to the medical clinics difficult for people who live in surrounding communities. They often walk many miles or find a ride on a bus or in the back of a truck to access medical care.

Thanks to donations from numerous individuals and parishes in the Spokane diocese, the Guatemala Commission was able to honor its financial commitment to the medical program.  The medical program is fully financed by donations from the Guatemala Commission, individuals, the Sisters of Charity of New York, and the few patients who can pay the 20 quetzal fee (about $3). The largest part of the clinic budget is for salaries. Other costs include electricity, cleaning supplies, truck maintenance and gas, and snacks for patients during classes, clinics, and staff meetings. Costs for the laboratory include the technician salary and reagents.

In other Guatemala mission news: The Annual Guatemala Mission Celebration, originally planned for May, has been postponed to Monday, September 12th. Special guests invited to the Celebration include Francisca, nurse at the Novillero clinic, and Pascual, religious education teacher in Old Ixtahuacan.  Francisca and Pascual are working on obtaining passports and visas; however, the process is taking longer than usual, making it impossible for them to travel to Spokane in May.  Please watch for more details. 

Health care promotor serving patient at the pharmacy in medical clinic in Nahuala.