A team of novices upgraded the MedVision tele-conferencing camera on Monday, and evaluated the promising capabilities on a bear. Oaxaca Bob brought Brian and Christine King to the Hospitalito for the installation. Brian and Christine (who live in a sailboat on the Rio Dulce and in Panajachel) are the parents of Simon King, President MedVision who appears on the screen in office in Baltimore MD. The video conferencing camera will go in the operating room.

Inauguration – Diabetes Clinics


Today was the first day of the weekly diabetes clinics organized by Hospitalito Atitlán and funded by the World Diabetes Foundation. Victor Ramirez, project coordinator was there for the kick-off. The first clinic was a the Centro de Convergencia Panul, and will happen weekly until 2015. Tomorrow the Tuesday clinics in Pachichaj will begin and Wednesday in Xechivoy. Each patient receives information and a copy of the educational booklet. At the clinic their blood sugar level will be checked, vital signs, weight and a foot check. We hope that the information sessions will change lifestyle habits in Santiago Atitlán that have led to the rise in the disease.

Drug Guide for Hospitalito Atitlán


Today the nursing staff received copies of a new Drug Reference guide created especially for Hospitalito Atitlán. Isobel Harvey created the guide during her year as the Nurse Educator at the Hospitalito in response to need she saw during her time. The book is easy to use and lists medications and substitutions available in Guatemala, with side affects and how to talk to the patient and family members.  Thank you Isobel for this incredibly valuable instrument, wish you were here to see it put to use.

A week of Surgery

Saturday, when OB/Gyn Bill Chun and his family and friends pulled into Santiago Atitlán, they didn’t go to their vacation rental, instead they pulled directly to the emergency room door so that he could scrub for surgery. Aklax the van driver had received a phone call requesting that Dr. Chun and his co-worker, surgeon Eduardo Menor ccome directly to HA to scrub for a complicated C-sec.  Sunday they saw more than 40 patients who hoped to receive care and Monday morning another surprise when a ruptured appendix presented in the Emergency Room. “I am so impressed with the Hospitalito and the operating room staff. I only had to ask once. At home it can take an hour between surgeries to clean the operating room, it went much faster here. I congratulate the Hospitalito on a great operation.” In this photo are OB/Gyn Dr. Chun his wife Karen Sweeney-Chun a 2006 Hospitalito PA volunteer and surgeon Dr. Eduardo Menor. The team performed 28 surgeries, including three emergency appendectomies and a colostectomy.surgeons.jpg

¡Feliz Cumpleaños Alicia!


Alice Zients turned 22 yesterday. She is a PILA (Princeton in Latin America) volunteer in the Development Office. She baked a cake in the Hospitalito kitchen and invited all the staff. In this foto, Dr. Chuc is protecting her from the Guatemalan tradition of someone sneaking up from behind and mashing the birthday girl’s face in the cake.  Alice did have to take a bite from the side of the cake (also the tradition), but thanks to the hospital’s medical director she avoided too much chocolate frosting up her nose.

Pediatric Dental Jornada


These brave little girls from San Antonio Chacaya are at the Hospitalito today for dental care offered by a team of pediatric dentists with Dr. Glen Dean.  The older girl got her work done today, but little sister will have to wait for the anesthesiologist on Thursday, because her work will be extensive.  The dental team commented on the need, reporting that many of the children were more than two hours in the chair and required up to 15 procedures. HA is happy to be able to offer this service to the community of Chacaya.

Somos Hermanos


Thirteen young people planned their gap year to include six months with Somos Hermanos. The program in Xela includes language study, home stay and volunteering. Each group visits the Hospitalito to learn about international volunteering and to lend a hand. This Saturday they prepared a corner of the construction site for planting grass, which will help to keep the dust down when the rains end. Several also worked with Tono in inventory. We really enjoy their energy and hard work. Thanks!

Dra. Makini’s last day…. again.


Makini Chisolm – Straker is a fourth year Emergency resident at Mount Sanai in New York. In the medical library, Dra. Asminda, Dra. Susana, UPenn med student Erin Basset – Navoa, Dra. Makini and Dr. Andy are ending morning report and saying goodbye. This was Dra. Makini’s second time to volunteer at Hospitalito Atitlán. 

David and Tina Iven


What a nice surprise to finally meet this couple who were instrumental in the original hospital in Panabaj during the early 70’s. David drove a U-Haul truck loaded with medical supplies from Oklahoma to Santiago Atitlán in 1968. The equipment was used in a small clinic in the Parroquia while the hospital in Panabaj was built. He met his wife Tina who was born in Santiago Atitlán and also worked at the hospital. They left SA 38 years ago, but continue to visit from time to time from their home in Muskogee OK. They all enjoyed remembering friends with Dr. Chuc, who started working in the Clinica Santiaguito just months before the hospital closed. We have asked David and Tina to write an account of their years in SA and their work at the hospital.

Vitamin Angels


Victor Ramirez is happy to show a recent donation from Vitamin Angels for the Programa Maternal Infantil and for the new outreach programs in Chacaya and Cerro de Oro. The donation includes prenatal vitamins and children’s chewable multi-vitamins.

Strachan Family Foundation


Miguel Tello visited Santiago Atitlán today to learn more about the upcoming education and monthly medical clinics planned by Hospitalito Atitlán and the Centro de Salud. The “Dias de Salud’ will begin in November and will be held in the Puestos de Salud in Cerro de Oro and Chacaya. HA will provide training to local healthcare workers and teams of HA physicians and medical volunteers will provide clinical care.  Miguel is Director of the Strachan Family Foundation in Costa Rica which is funding the community outreach. Grant writer Janet Ilott and program coordinator accompanied Miguel today.


Eben Armstrong (center) is a Biomedical engineer who works for MedShare International in Atlanta. He checks and repairs equipment before it is sent around the world. MedShare has sent more than 800 containers of medical equipment and supplies to 82 countries since they started 14 years ago. They want to keep the equipment working too, so Eben is conducting a three day workshop at Hospitalito Atitlán. Two repairmen from the National Hospital in, Sololá are participating, a technician from Retaluehu, Hospitalito’s electricians and nursing staff. Everyone is amazed with what they are learning.

Marin County Guatemala Mission

bill-cuneo-and-friends.jpgHospitalito friends Bill Cuneo with his wife Pat, Terry and Father Ken Weare pose with the embroidery that honors the donation from the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Bill is founder of the Marin County Guatemala Mission. They send containers of medical and school supplies to Santiago Atitlán and the schools in Patzún. As a Trustee for Amigos Hospitalito Atitlán, he suggested the ‘Best Friends’ Club… donors who set up automatic monthly donations, which makes it easier to plan for purchase of medicines and supplies.

The WHOLE family is helping!

work-day-for-friends-from-cerro.jpgSeveral families who are spending some of their summer vacation in Cerro de Oro arrived at the Hospitalito yesterday for a visit and to work a few hours. Kim Verriere and the children are washing shelving to be moved to the upstairs supply room. The group from Texas and Louisiana has been helping the public school in Cerro and hope to get the classrooms connected to the internet. They brought several bags of beautiful children’s clothing. It was a great day!


Comadrona Training


Traditional birth attendants are required to participate in monthly trainings where they ask questions, and report births. The Centro de Salud, Prodesca and Hospitalito Atitlán take turns hosting the event and a training is provided. Todays topic was breast feeding. There were a lot of questions and the pediatrician there to answer.

Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA)

CFCA is a sponsorship organization with a branch in Santiago Atitlán called PTA. Starting in May the children sponsored have been sent to Hospitalito Atitlán for a well child exam with the pediatrician. More than 1800 children will be seen and also receive parasite medication. In this photo, pediatrician Dr. Pedro is examining a child.


How to Live Healthy with Diabetes

A new ten page educational booklet in Spanish and Tz’utujil is hot off the presses, thanks to the World Diabetes Fund. Illustrated by Angelika Bauer the booklet teaches thru drawings and text. We hope to have the complete version in pdf. on the website soon, but here is a sneak peak.


Hospitalito welcomes a pediatrician


The community of Santiago Atitlán has been requesting a pediatrician at Hospitalito Atitlán and at the same time the Universidad Rafael Landivar was looking for placement for pediatric residents. A perfect match. Dra. Rosangela Sanchez Puga started working at HA in January. In this picture she is doing a training with the women in the Hospitalito’s maternal infant sponsorship program and they are learning when their baby can start new foods.

Faculty Education Abroad – University of Virginia

Dr. David Burt, Director of Virginia’s Guatemalan Initiative and Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine has been visiting HA over the years. Friday he brought a large group, and after several presentations, they invited staff to the Hotel Eco Bambú for lunch. Dr. Burt is seated on Tono’s right in the photo. It was a very interesting and informative day.


Guatemalan Health Initiative


The University of Pennsylvania’s Guatemalan Health Initiative student group arrived last week. They will spend two months in Santiago Atitlán and do a baseline study for the World Diabetes Fund project. Dr. Kent Bream and Fran Barg PhD are meeting with the students in the Penn Research Library at Hospitalito Atitlán.

Cecilia Azucena


Little Cecelia Azucena is 16 months old now. She is part of the Maternal Infant sponsorship program, and is special to the staff at the Hospitalito because she is a special needs child who was born at 29 weeks and spent six weeks in Roosevelt. Her stay there resulted in the loss of her eyesight, retinopathy of prematurity. Cecelia receives physical therapy at ADISA and today she was given a noisy little toy… my first computer. Her sister Rosa will help her to learn and play with it.

National League against Tuberculosis


Hospitalito staff and local healthcare providers attended a meeting in the education room this morning that was led by the Liga Nacional Contra la Tuberculosis.  Participants learned that the WHO rates Guatemala as having a high rate of TB with 85 of 100,000 inhabitants. There are 160 patients with drug resistant TB in the Guatemala. Everyone learned how to diagnose TB in adults and children and how to take test samples.

Mike & Teresa Oswald & the EYE team


Hospitalito Atitlán, Guatemala

Michael Oswald CRNA, MNA (Anesthesia)

Teresa Oswald

One afternoon during a lunch break, my wife Teresa and I decided to visit a local school in Santiago.  In the past, we have had great success in finding children at various schools in Guatemala who have an eye condition known as strabismus or crossed eyes.  This school visit was particularly successful because we were able to meet Manuel.  With the assistance of the school director, we climbed the stairs up to the second level and met with Manuel and his teacher.  His teacher spoke of Manuel’s double vision related to his crossed eye.  Previously she had spoken with Manuel’s mother and asked that he be seen by a local Doctor.  Money was hard to come by in Manuel’s family, so his mother simply accepted Manuel as he was instead of seeking medical attention.  His teacher also explained that many families simply do not understand that certain vision conditions or eye aesthetics can be corrected. She described to us how she has taught her students to be accepting of all people and to not judge or ridicule another based upon appearance.

            After speaking with Manuel about his condition and how it limited his abilities in the classroom, we then asked if we could call his mother and find out if she could bring him to our clinic.  Right about then she appeared out of nowhere.  I described the surgery that her son would need as the director translated my Spanish into Tsutujil.  Manuel smiled as we described the potential outcome of his surgery.  We told them to meet us at the clinic the next morning at 0800.

         The next morning as we hiked up to Hospitalito, our thoughts were with Manuel.  Would his mother take this opportunity to improve the life of her son?  Or would the fear of the unknown prevent her from coming?To our surprise Manuel was outside the clinic doors waiting with his family to be seen at 0800.  He had been asking for Miguel (me!).  His smile of anticipation will forever be in our mind’s eye.  He was not afraid.  He was simply excited to have his eye corrected.  

           After meeting with Dr. Stormogipson, the surgical plan was put into place.  On Thursday he would have strabismus surgery on his right eye.

           On Thursday morning, Manuel was the second case of the day. In the preoperative area, he had Teresa and all of the nurses laughing hysterically because of his contagious laugh.   I then brought him into the operating room and asked him to be my helper.  The nurses had given him a large bulldog stuffed animal that he jokingly named after me, “Miguel”. He climbed onto the operating room table without fear, smiling all the while.  Gently I placed the anesthesia mask over his mouth and said to him, “respirá profundo amigo” as he drifted off to sleep.  After a successful surgery, we took Manuel into the recovery room where his nurse Denise sweetly spoke to him in English, but with a tone of love and compassion that anyone could understand.

         Manuel spent that night in the hospital as he cuddled with Miguel the bulldog by his side.  His mother had gone out to get him some Horchata to drink and was, as most are after surgery in Guatemala, concerned about his diet.  I could see in her eyes the love of a mother for her son as she tried to help him through the process in her own way.

       The next day, Teresa and I excitedly hiked up to the hospital and found Manuel in the screening room in a chair ready to be seen.  After his eye patch was taken off, we saw that his eyes were perfectly aligned.  He smiled again with joy upon hearing how he looked.  

       If Manuel had been the only general anesthetic I had given the entire two weeks while in Guatemala, I would have been satisfied.  I am content with the work that I do in Guatemala not based upon the number of surgeries, but rather the effect we have as a group upon  individuals.  As Manuel hugged my wife and I goodbye, he walked out of the hospital with Miguel in his arms and an unforgettable smile on his face.

     This is why my wife and I come to Guatemala.  There is nothing more satisfying to us than serving one of God’s precious children.  This trip was an honor and a blessing to Teresa and I.  We hope to return again soon.


Hospitalito sharing the Mundito donation


HA continues to donate supplies to the community healthcare workers that were received in the Medshare container that arrived last month.  The local volunteer rescue workers (Bomberos) and ambulance company picked up latex gloves and other supplies… and were told when they need more to contact us again.