Hospitalito Atitlan

Hospitalito Atitlan

Santiago, Guatemala

Tom McDonald

February 13, 2023

Day 1

I arrived safely in Guatemala City late Saturday night. I was fortunate to have with me a travelling partner and good friend – Steve Pike – who is my father-in-law and who drove to California from Indianapolis so that he could join us on this trip and watch the kids while Stephanie and I are working. Stephanie, of course, is my wife and Physician Assistant who trained at the Indianapolis Shoulder-to-Hand Center before I met her there as a fellow and proceeded to steal her. Dr Greenberg has not yet forgiven me.

Sunday morning, we picked up Shirley – our intrepid surgical technician – and, after a winding drive into the highlands, we arrived in San Pedro la Laguna – a picturesque pueblo on the shore of Lake Atitlan, surrounded by volcanos (some active!) There, we met Stephanie and our kids – Louis and Alice – who are attending La Escuela Caracol for the month of February.

We settled into a lovely home and managed to catch most of the Super Bowl. Early this morning, we travelled by boat to drop the kids off at school and then proceeded to Hospitalito Atitlan in Santiago. Upon our arrival, we were greeted warmly and given an orientation and tour of both the hospital and the town. We learned that this hospital came into existence mostly through private donations and its mission is to serve the local and regional Mayan communities. It has an excellent reputation as well as a storied history.

It opened to great fanfare and enthusiasm in April, 2005 and began fulfilling its mission in earnest. Tragically, in October of the same year, Hurricane Stan struck this area of Central America and, in addition to loss of life, the area was devastated by the loss of the Hospitalito Atitlan. However, through the heroic efforts of both the local, national, and international communities, it was rebuilt at its current location.

The land is beautiful, the people warm, and the medical community very pleased to host our group. This afternoon, I discussed patients with the attending orthopaedic surgeon and presented a gift from Adventist Health Sonora (the rural hospital where I practice in Sonora, California.) In its generosity, our hospital donated a new hand instrument set, which is desperately needed here if hand surgery is to become a common practice. I am hoping that this outreach mission is the beginning of attaining that goal.


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