It must have been a sign of fate that I happened to be paging through the resort brochure the last night of my stay at the lovely Barefoot Cay and saw the two-page spread on Clinica Esperanza. Instantly, I was taken by the story and by a stroke of luck the next morning, thirty minutes before my departure to the United States I found myself interviewing the very doctor who has dedicated the last several years of his life to helping build the clinic.
The clinic itself started in a rather unexpected way. Peggy Stranges, an American nurse had come to the gorgeous, tropical island of Roatan off the shores of Honduras to retire. However, once word caught on among the local community that a nurse was living right down the street, more and more people came to Nurse Peggy looking for help. In a place lacking modern health care, Peggy began to see a need for providing low-cost or no-cost health care services to the people of Roatan.
Clinica Esperanza started at Nurse Peggy’s kitchen table and over the years expanded from her home to an apartment beneath her house, then occupied four rooms at a nearby church, and finally ended up in its home today as a first-class freestanding hospital in the Sandy Bay area of Roatan. Peggy has dedicated her life to building and nurturing what some call “Hospital Ms. Peggy”, and together with Honduran physician Raymond Cherington, M.D. and Arizona-based physician Patrick Connell, M.D,. Ms. Peggy has achieved her dreams.
Today between 1200 and 1300 patients are seen a month at the clinic. The clinic provides a wide variety of services ranging from the walk-in clinic visits to pediatric and OBGYN care (women’s health center, pediatric inpatient hospital and birthing center). Adult and Pediatric Dental services are also available. However, their services are limited as they currently do not have an X-ray machine nor specialists in certain areas of medical expertise making it necessary to travel to the mainland of Honduras in order to receive this kind of care.
The business model of Clinica Esperenza is simple and affordable. The cost per clinic visit is only 70 lempiras or approximately $3.50. If a person is unable to pay for the visit than it is free. Unlike the public hospitals in Honduras where medicine is rarely available and the patient needs to send a family member or friend to the pharmacy to buy any needed medicine for during and after treatment, all medication at the clinic is free.
Per Doctor Connell, “One of the biggest challenges facing the clinic at this time is infant and child nutrition. Three children are known to have died of malnutrition on the Island in the last year. Probably more.
Clinica Esperanza’s “Promotora de Salud” program trains local women to monitor the nutritional status of children at risk and provide food, education, and medical attention to Roatan children who are malnourished, infested with parasites, and/or suffer from diarrheal illnesses.”
The clinic relies on the help of volunteers and a dedicated staff. Every year around 125 volunteers come to the clinic with a wide depth of expertise ranging from doctors, dentists and pharmacists to business and computer savvy volunteers who can donate their skills. Clinica Esperanza also accepts cash donations and in-kind donations of supplies and medicines. To learn more about donating, click here. If you are interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunities at the clinic, click here.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Minnesota, USA.
Photo credits to the author.