Women and children waiting to see Dr. Jose Miguel in Old Ixtahuacan clinic (dated April 2019).
Medical Director Sends 2020 Yearly Report for Medical Clinics
Medical clinics in Guatemala continue to operate amidst the pandemic, according to director Dr. Jose Miguel, with nurses wearing protective gear and patients wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Some people are afraid to visit the clinics due to COVID-19, so the number of treated patients is less than in other years; however, services are still needed and accessed by many.
According to Dr. Miguel’s annual report, 4,200 patients were treated during the 2020 fiscal year at the four clinics located in the towns of Novillero, Nahuala, New Ixtahuacan, and Old Ixtahuacan. The Ministry of Public Health administered routine vaccinations for children in Nahuala and Novillero, but 147 vaccinations were given to children at the medical clinics in Ixtahuacan and Antigua Ixtahuacan, and 131 TDaP (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccines were given to pregnant women.
The clinical laboratory at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Nahuala operated well and tested 859 patients, with 1,830 tests. They plan to treat more patients in 2021 and include other types of tests that require additional reagents, thus increasing the need for financial aid. Dr. Miguel thanks St. Joseph Church, Colbert, for helping with the costs of medicines and reagents for the laboratory.
COVID-19 cases and deaths increased throughout the year in the region, with the highest number of confirmed cases in Novillero and Nahuala, and few cases in Old Ixtahuacan. Dr. Miguel said that on March 20 of this year, the Ministry of Health reported 718 cases of COVID-19 in the mission areas of Novillero, Nahuala and New Ixtahuacan, with 43 recorded deaths, with no data from Old Ixtahuacan. The number of reported cases is an estimate, because many people are afraid of the stigma of carrying the illness in their communities, although deaths reported are accurate. Guatemala originally received very few vaccines for COVID-19 and they were dispensed to health workers who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients. They do not know when they will be receiving vaccines for others.
The medical clinics offer a holistic approach that includes health classes, prayer, and home visits. During 2020, Dr. Miguel and nurses trained 25 midwives, made 28 home visits (January through March), and delivered groceries to 27 families.
People pay for services when they are able; however, income from patients decreased due to a lack of jobs. Donations sent through churches and by individuals to the Guatemala Commission funded 86% of the salaries of the medical team. Thankfully, Family-to-Family sent a one-time donation to help with medicines and emergency purchases due to the pandemic.
Dr. Miguel sends his gratitude to all those who have supported the clinics financially and through prayer. The Guatemala Commission thanks everyone who has donated either directly to the commission or through their respective parishes. For a complete list of supporting parishes, please visit the Guatemala mission website at: