Guatemala’s Hospital Crisis and What We Can Do About It

18 women wait for C-sections in Antigua's national hospital . . . but there are no supplies to operate. Image via La Noticia en Guatemala.

I’ve written previously about Guatemala’s public hospitals, but it’s something that has been weighing on me heavily lately. Last week, my niece, Sofia 3, was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia and we had yet another chance to see what the public hospital is like. While they were surprisingly well equipped for children, the very basic items had to be purchased. Her father, Irving’s youngest brother, had to go out to buy the supplies for an IV to be run. Oxygen and medication were supplied, but the actual supplies were unavailable.

Irving went to visit the little munchkin (who is recovering nicely and should be home today) and I asked him to talk to the hospital about donations. He talked to the Chief of Pediatrics and discovered that they need just about everything, but are particularly interested in the following items:

  • Gloves
  • Syringes
  • IV supplies
  • Suturing supplies
  • Gowns and clothes for children
  • Diapers
  • Towels

This was for the Pediatrics floor only. In Maternity, they are in desperate need of supplies for C-sections. Families are being asked to find the supplies while their pregnant loved ones wait and labor in the hospital. Doctors are weary of the complete lack of supplies to treat their patients with, though they do the best they can with what they have and what families can bring.

I’m just one person. But this crisis is being reported everywhere. Here are some links that may help shed more light on the situation.

English

Daryl Fulp, a missionary who lives in a town near us, wrote this sad post about his own experiences with the hospitals. He also blogged about desperate parents pleading for help for their children, often just a few dollars for medicine or supplies.

Spanish

This article in El Periodico shows that hospitals across the nation are in trouble.

This short report gives more info on how things came to pass . . . the money was stolen by the government.

The following is a video that shows some of the difficulties that the hospitals are faced with, including a woman who had to find the money to buy surgical supplies for her daughter who needed an emergency C-section.

How We Can Help

I often feel helpless when I read these stories of families desperate to help their children survive, or women trying to have their baby. I’m not rich enough to help many people and sometimes it feels pointless to help just one, though it’s really not!

There are few things that can be done and every bit helps. While I hope the government steps up and the new president will work on fixing this problem, people are suffering and even dying in the meantime. We can do something about that for one or two people . . . maybe more.

1. You can donate money to Daryl Fulp’s mission fund. He lists it in his blog posts. He has a proper organization, so that may be the simplest method for many. If not there, you may find another organization that you trust in Guatemala and ask if they can do donations.

2. You can donate directly to the hospital. If you’re in Guatemala, or visiting, you can drop off medical supplies and clothing for the hospital yourself or contact me and I’ll meet up with you to collect and deliver them.

3. Donate materials. Irving and I eventually want to set up a small clinic here where families will be able to come when they need specific supplies for their loved ones, but at this point, the need is too great and we are not equipped to handle that. So, for now our solution is to start small and take the items directly to the hospital. Here’s what we’re working on right now:

  • C-section kits: Small kits that include the syringes, gloves, IV items and stitching supplies for a C-section. 
  • Hospital gowns: I love sewing and so it makes sense to create some hospital gowns. I’m already doing small burial outfits for preemies, but am expanding to hospital gowns for both adults and children. These can be made from sheets, which are easily found in the pacas and come in some pretty cute designs, as well as flannel.
  •  ER kits: Stitching equipment and thread, gauze and gloves are just a few of the things we’ll be collecting as we can to donate to the ER.
I’m still debating whether or not to open a GoFundMe to help out with this, but of course, we’re happy to accept physical donations of fabric and other supplies to take in. Contact me for more information or leave a comment with your thoughts.

Edited to add: We’ve created a GoFundMe account for those interested in donating. You can follow the progress on the new Healing Hearts Guatemala site.

4 thoughts on “Guatemala’s Hospital Crisis and What We Can Do About It

  1. God bless you. I hope to help you. The situation is sad. Now that Guatemala has a new president, I hope things start to improve. I will donate as soon as I get paid at the end of the month. And when I end up visiting Guatemala, I will bring stuff and get in touch with you. :)

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