By Amanda Paniagua, Shipments Manager, MedShare
“When I was 17 my father passed away. He had a brain hemorrhage. We took him to the National Hospital but they didn’t do anything to help him. That is what made me want to become a nurse.” –Pedro Sosof, LPN
Pedro Sosof is a 26 year old indigenous Tz´tujil Mayan from Santiago Atitlan who has been practicing nursing at Hospitalito Atitlan for five years. The fifth child of eight born to a fisherman father and housewife mother, he grew up poor. Thanks to a level head and a lot of dedication and hard work, however, Pedro was able to put himself through nursing school by working part-time selling artisan crafts. He is now a respected clinician with a flair for emergency and surgical care.
The Hospitalito is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala, and serves a population of about 43,000 indingenous Mayan, many of whom speak no or very limited Spanish. Pedro and the other nurses and some medical staff speak Tz´tutjil and translate it into Spanish for the rest. MedShare shipped a container of medical supplies and equipment here about a year ago, and since then Pedro and the other nursing and medical staff have used the items to save lives and improve health and wellness in this remote region. A second MedShare container is in the early fundraising stage and will likely ship later this year.
I think understand what he means when he says ¨they didn´t do anything¨ for his father at the National Hospital before he passed away. It´s not that the doctors and nurses didn’t want to help Pedro´s father eight years ago; more likely, due to a lack of trained medical personnel, medications, supplies, equipment, and funding and other necessary resources, they just couldn’t.
The National Hospital in Solola doesn’t have a working ventilator. The Antigua National Hospital lacks basic equipment like stethoscopes and pulse oximeters for their newborn nursery and pediatric ICU. Critical cases have to be referred to Guatemala City, where there may be more advanced equipment available, but not all patients can survive the journey.
In contract, Hospitalito Atitlan is well-equipped in both staff and supplies, thanks to donations received from MedShare and other international foundations and NGOs. Today I watched as Pedro rushed to grab a speculum and gauze from a fully-stocked supply closet when a young pregnant Tz´tutujil woman came into the emergency room with vaginal bleeding. Her pregnancy was lost, but her life was saved. Later in the day I witnessed a young Mayan woman in her third trimester with a dangerous kindey infection receive stat antibiotics via IV, saving her life and that of her baby. Two years ago her term baby was stillborn, delivered at home by a local midwife. The Hospitalito doctors suspect a similar kidney infection was the cause of death; thankfully this time she is getting the care she needs. More donated eqiupment and supplies are still desperately needed here, but all in all, this small Guatemalan Hospital is producing more success stories than one ever could have imagined.
¨I do this job to help my people,¨ Pedro told me. ¨Even though sometimes it is hard, I keep going, because I feel like I´m doing something good for my people¨