Susan Dean Returns from Guatemala, Reflects on a Job Well Done

So now the team is back home and what have we learned?  A few facts about Guatemala:

  • The average Guatemalan gets 4.1 years of schooling.
  •  Only 30  percent of the population pays taxes.
  • Public school is free, but students pay for their own books.
  • In Antigua, Guatemala, the average family has two or three children; in the villages, however, the average number is eight per family.
  • This is chronic malnutrition in Guatemala; in fact, worldwide the three most malnourished countries (in order) are Afghanistan, Yemen, and then Guatemala.

…and what have we learned about the Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, the hospital where we worked?

  • It is the home of over 250 people.
  • More than 250,000 people are served here annually. They are the sick and the poor.
  • The hospital was destroyed in 1976 and rebuilt with a greater vision. Programs now include education, recreation, and social programs for students.
  • The hospital now has a nutrition recuperation center.  Patients stay for 1-3 years, or for as long as they need to stay. Parents come into the hospital to take care of their children.
  • The hospital has a daycare program, allowing parents to work outside of the home.
  • Outpatient services are provided. They include colonoscopies and substance abuse programs.  Special cervical cancer screening tests are also done.  Sadly, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women in Guatemala.
  • An audiology department is being built!

So the way I see it,  we are part of a growing, and incredible hospital and outpatient clinic….and this hospital is a part of me.

So, I invite you to join us some time on a “health care trip” and see how it changes your world!

Susan Dean, MD
Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center

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