A Clinic that Heals and Teaches
Clinica Esperanza Celebrates a Year of Work in a New Building

July 1st, 2008
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private]

Medical volunteer Lauren Young tends to a eleven-year-old Brittany Lucas, as her mother watches on.

Medical volunteer Lauren Young tends to a eleven-year-old Brittany Lucas, as her mother watches on.

Clinica Esperanza, often called Hospital Nurse Peggy, has completed a year of operating at its own building in Sandy Bay. Other than the much smaller AKR clinic, Clinica Esperanza is the only medical facility west of Coxen Hole. “We have patients coming from Flowers Bay, as far as Oak Ridge,” said nurse Peggy Stranges, founder of the clinic.

The facility is bustling with young medical students running room to room tending to patients coming for medical attention that rarely costs more than Lps. 50.

The clinic has become a place of training for dozens of medical students and doctors completing their residencies. Seven US medical schools have sent their students to the clinic and some of them receive a class credit for working at the clinic. “This is the first time I’ve learn with real patients,” said Lauren Young, 23, a first-year medical student from University of Texas, Houston. Young came to Roatan for a five-week period to gain hands, practical medical knowledge.

One or two doctors and between six to ten medical students are typically on staff. “We have so many volunteers we send them to other places, French Harbour Community clinic,” said Stranges, who coordinates the daily workings of the clinic and gives care to its patients. “I feel like a mother hen.” In 2007 110 volunteers, staying from seven days to six months, helped at the clinic to the total of 11,500 hours.

The transition to a sustainable medical program hasn’t come easy for Clinica Esperanza, and the shadow of an imploded Polo Galindo Clinic in Punta Gorda hangs over privately run medical facilities on the island. “Three of four mission hospitals fail in the first four years,” said Dr. Patrick Connell, a long-time clinic supporter. “We want the clinic to be here in 50 years.” So before donors tire out, Stranges hopes to create an endowment large enough to support of the operation of the clinic. It costs a monthly $7,000 to sustain the clinic, but once the building is completed it will cost as much as $25,000 a month.

The clinic is expanding and investing in its future. Dr. Ivan Pineda, a podiatrist, is the latest of the specialists to join the clinic’s eight paid staff. The 2,200 square foot facility is due to double in size when construction on the second floor birthing center is finished. Every week prenatal classes and diabetic classes are given. A newly acquired ultrasound machine will serve to educate local doctors in a course scheduled for January. [/private]

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