I arrived in Santiago Atitlán yesterday after a sticky “chicken bus”-ride and was pleasantly greeted by clear skies, crisp mountain air, and a lazy, slightly overweight guard dog. I was introduced to this small town briefly in April, and my return is surprisingly familiar and for work rather than pleasure. With the support of The George Washington University OB/GYN, Holy Cross Hospital, and the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, I am here to volunteer at El Hospitalito Atitlan as an “Obstetrico”.
El Hospitalito (as it is simply referred here) was built in 2005 with the goal of providing both primary and secondary medical care to the rural towns within a two hour (by road) radius. Over the years, it has expanded to include a full-service 24/7 emergency room with an ambulance, an operating room, x-ray and ultrasound, four delivery beds and sixteen inpatient beds. It does not yet have the capabilities for intensive care, as it does not yet have a blood bank, ventilators, or a 24-hour pharmacy. Higher level of care is available at a hospital in Solola, two hours by road and available to patients by transfer.
My job here is multifaceted. I will primarily work as house staff. I see patients from 8-5pm three days a week for both prenatal care and gynecologic issues, as well as perform ultrasounds. On off days, I will travel to neighboring villages and towns to provide prenatal care and preventative women’s health services. I take home call 24/7 and will be available for laboring patients and emergent GYN consults. My secondary project revolves around midwife education, in which I will focus on providing training sessions on peripartum emergencies, including postpartum hemorrhage, preeclampsia and obstructed labor.
I don’t know what the next weeks will hold for me, but I’m excited for this adventure and hope that you will enjoy following along!