Hospital receives new lease on life
Members of the Rotary Club of Iguala, Mexico, unload donated medical equipment with the help of armed security for a new hospital in Teloloapan, Mexico. Bottom; The inside of the new hospital. Photos courtesy of Project CURE
U.S. and Mexican Rotarians have used a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant to supply a hospital in a poverty-stricken community in Mexico with more than US$1 million worth of medical equipment.
The Rotary clubs of Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, and Denver, Colorado, USA, secured a $8,500 Matching Grant to help the hospital in Teloloapan, which had fallen into disrepair. The clubs collaborated with Project CURE (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment), a Denver-based organization that focuses on building sustainable health care infrastructures by collecting surplus medical supplies and donating them to developing countries.
Project coordinator Irina Bulkley-Hopkins, a member of the Denver club, reached out to fellow club member Doug Jackson, the CEO and president of Project CURE, to help solidify the project. After an on-site needs assessment, Project CURE volunteers, many of whom are local Denver Rotarians, collected medical equipment and delivered two 53-foot containers full of supplies to Teloloapan in July.
State health officials approved a government grant to repair the long-abandoned hospital building after receiving word of the Matching Grant for supplies. The 24-bed hospital now has an X-ray machine, ultrasound technology, and emergency medical equipment. It will provide emergency and general health care for more than 60,000 people in the community.
"This is a home run for Rotary in Mexico," says Jackson. "This is what Project CURE and Rotary live for -- to help those who are in need."
Access to medical care
Before the hospital reopened, the rural region of Teloloapan only had access to a small clinic with one doctor. The medical facility in neighboring Iguala was hours away by footpath and dirt road.
"I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment because we helped thousands of people gain access to health care that was never available to them before," says Bulkley-Hopkins.
The project ran into a few snags along the way, she says, including one of the containers being held up in customs.
After months of doubt about whether the second container would be allowed into the country, Jackson contacted Margarita Zavala, wife of Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who had worked with Project CURE on several other initiatives in Mexico. Zavala was able to help the container clear customs and reach the hospital in February, Jackson says.
"First Lady Margarita Zavala was thrilled to hear about our project and was eager to help in any way she could," says Jackson. "She is a great person to have on our side for future Project CURE and Rotary projects."
Bulkley-Hopkins said Iguala Rotarians did a tremendous job with logistics after the equipment arrived. Club members prepared required permits and organized meetings with local and state officials. The club also arranged for armed security guards to be present as the supplies were moved into the hospital.
"Accomplishing what we did in Teloloapan is a great example of how Project CURE and Rotary can work together and drastically improve lives. This is a great partnership, and I feel very fortunate to be associated with both," says Jackson. "We're going to save some lives and change the course of history for this community."