Photos from the Field

Guatemala 2009

On Program Officer Patti Skillin's recent trip to Guatemala, she assessed conditions at hospitals and clinics in the Xela, Ixil and Polochic regions of the country, and witnessed the arrival of a Global Links donation to Hospital de Nebaj.
Skillin often encounters unexpected difficulties in her travels to some of the outlying areas in our program countries. Crossing the river at Trece Aguas proved difficult, but possible.
When she reached the clinic at Trece Aguas, Skillin was shown the solitary sets of obstetrical and surgical instruments owned by the clinic. This scarcity of resources is a common problem -- and one that donations from Global Links can remedy.
In El Estor, in the Izabal region, a health center which had recently begun doing cesarean sections and other more complicated procedures, storage of patient records was a challenge. Global Links staff often encounter this problem in the health centers and hospitals they assess. Nearly every donation from Global Links now includes office furnishings such as desks, chairs, filing cabinets and chart racks.
Another common problem is uncomfortable and unsanitary patient beds. The extreme heat in El Estor, and lack of fans, makes these vinyl-covered mattresses even worse. Global Links includes sheets and other linens in almost every donation, and sends mattresses and beds whenever possible.
Patients in the emergency room in Cotzal health center are evaluated on this exam table. Global Links regularly sends refurbished exam tables to improve conditions such as these.
The waiting room at Cotzal has no chairs - or anything else to make patients and families comfortable.
In Chajul health center, which received a donation from Global Links in early 2009, Skillin was pleased to find this modern, comfortable delivery table from Global Links well-maintained and ready for patients. One baby had already been delivered on this table the morning that Skillin visited.
A few months after Skillin’s trip, she received this photo and note from Chajul: "When the donation arrived, we immediately began to promote our new maternity service, and on our first day we had 5 births!"
Global Links outfitted the Intensive Care Unit at Hospital de Coatepeque. Skillin found this nurse’s station, with light box and other furnishings from Global Links, is now well-equipped to care for the sickest patients.
Skillin (holding boy's hand), along with representatives from the Ministry of Public Health and the Pan American Health Organization, were welcomed by the community in Chajul. This area is known for their textiles and colorful clothing, which also indicates which community they are from. In Guatemala, the patterns, styles and designs of clothing worn by the indigenous women (and in some cases the men) vary from community to community.
As part of the welcoming ceremony, these women prepared boxboles, a dish consisting of cornmeal wrapped in güisquil (squash) leaves and served with lime juice and a peppery sauce. The Ixil region is known for this traditional food. According to legend, when a stranger consumes these local delicacies, they fall in love with the Ixil region and continue to visit the area for the rest of their life. Skillin, based on her own experience, feels there may be some truth to this.
In the distance, the truck carrying the 40-foot container can be seen pulling into the community of Nebaj.
There is no ramp to help unload the truck - so the town pitches in.
Forming a line makes unloading the truck much easier.
A simple item such as an IV pole greatly enhances patient comfort. Global Links received over 3000 IV poles from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2008, and has been able to include them in every donation where they are needed. Without IV poles, patients have much more difficulty in getting out of bed, which slows their healing and increases discomfort.
One hospital worker is especially pleased with the new chairs. Note the file cabinet and the clean, hospital-grade mattresses in the background.
There is a lot of sorting and unpacking to be done. All of this material would have entered landfills in the United States if Global Links had not recovered it. Now, however, the equipment and supplies included in this donation will greatly enhance the ability of Hospital de Nebaj, and the health centers of Chajul and Cotzal, to deliver healthcare to their communities for many years.