Centro Médico Santa Clara – Sistema de Salud Verbo Encarnado Picture from https://www.facebook.com/672577399539036/posts/1552870988176335/
The whole WGC group had an opportunity to visit and learn about the clinic that the Sisters founded about 50 years ago. Those focusing on health professions are spending time with the staff and learning both there at the clinic and in the home-based hospice program. Sister Maria Marquez Fuentes (on the right) explained that the clinic serves about 75 people a day and from 1400 to 1500 within a month. The cost is kept low to help those in need.
Peru has a high rate of mental health needs and not enough professionals in that area. The UIW Psychology majors, Aly Escobar, Meghan Mueller, and Clarissa Garza, had an opportunity to met a psychologist at the clinic and learn a little of the variety of psychological services there.
Nurses Janie Benavides and Eleanor Garcia and the Director of Nursing at the Clinic.
Steffyn Nowak, a UIW Psychology student, originally from Guatemala, who plans to go to med school wrote, “Doing their best with what they have—that’s what the amazing team of doctors, nurses and Sisters of the Charity of the Incarnate Word are doing at the Santa Clara clinic in Chimbote. I visited their establishment and the first thing I noticed was how outdated their equipment and tools are in every room.
After spending a day at the clinic it amazed me how they are able to provide excellent care for their patients. Not only are they are working with outdated equipment but they are also responsible for making some of their supplies. One example I got to see and be part of was creating their own gauzes. They don’t have the luxury of getting individual packages of gauze. They get rolls which they have to cut by hand and then sterilize.
This experience made me aware of little things we take for granted from having updated medical equipment to not having to cut my own gauze because they come in individually packages. It saddens my heart to know that there’s better technology out there to treat patients, but in disadvantaged areas often people cannot afford new medical advances. It was a pleasure as a pre-medial student to experience how the medical staff from the Santa Clara clinic truly care about their patients and their community.
Savannah Sandoval, a Biology student at UIW who seeks to go to Optometry School said, “Centro Médico Santa Clara was established in 1965 with one mission, to help the less fortunate. After 50 years of missionary work in Peru, in December of 2015, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word established the Incarnate Word Health System and the Apostle Santiago Hospice! Furthermore, when the opportunity to volunteer at the clinic was given, my friends and I could not pass it up! Volunteering at the clinic allowed us to compare the different strategies and medical equipment used in Latin American countries such as Peru. The care was very efficient and the doctors appeared to genuinely care about their patients. A patient who was suffering from a common cold noted that, although she did have insurance, no other clinic went above and beyond like the nurses and doctors at Santa Clara. It is heartwarming to know that the medical workers in Chimbote Peru care for others as if they were all a big family. Unfortunately, after supporting hundreds of families the residential hospice was closed due to insufficient funds. The homebased hospice goes on. The nurses continue to go out to the community to help those who are terminally ill. By working together as one body we are hope filled to reopen the hospice one day. Muchas gracias a Sister Maria por la oportunidad. Es un honor poder servir!”
Ashley Alvarez, a UIW Accounting Major got to meet the accountants at the clinic.
Paul Chaiken, a pre-med student who just graduated was shadowing a doctor. Alejandra Saldivar is a Pre-Physical Therapy student who brings rich background with a grandmother who helps over 500 people in her home-based health care agency. Savannah Sandoval who shared in Lima on St. Martin de Porres the healer is certainly following in his footsteps.
Paul described: “The most impactful part of the trip, as of now, was my morning working in hospice. Because the hospice building was closed down due to a dispute with the local government over its structural integrity, a nurse from the Santa Clara Clinic must go off site and provide hospice services. These services generally involve taking care of the patients hygiene. Hospice patients tend to be very sensitive and fragile from their old age and past injuries, so a nurse is needed to gently move and dress the patient.
Every patient is unique in their health issues and in the resources that are allocated to their care. The first patient was schizophrenic and nonverbal; his only means of communication was screaming when he felt pain. Furthermore, he had a crippled leg from an accident and a self inflicted wound on his lip from compulsively biting it. This meant that greater care was needed to move him and that his lip needed to be regularly disinfected. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, caring for him was a slow and agonizing process for the care givers and the patient.
The second patient seen had more resources allocated to her care and lived with a family. She had suffered from a stroke which caused her right limbs to become immobile and set into awkward, curled positions. She could not eat or move and had to be fed through a feeding tube in the nose. She had to be bathed by sponge bath on her bed. In order to change the bedding, the sheets had to be passed beneath her. Despite not being able to talk, I could tell that she was in pain by the soft gurgling noises she made when she was moved. I am both amazed and afraid by how much a person can atrophy before death. Also, I am glad that I could witness something so raw and real.”
Yesenia Caloca looks at the photo of the first Sisters getting ready to go to Peru in 1963 right after there had been prayer for them in Chapel of the Incarnate Word.