“We saw the need first hand as well as the lovely hearts of gratitude of the people whose children and families will benefit from this work. It was very moving to both of us. I am so proud of the work that Atrium Health and Heineman Foundation has done to bring technology and training to these Latin American public hospitals like the one I was privileged to see in Chimaltenango,” said Ann Tarwater when she and husband, Michael Tarwater, President and CEO of Atrium Health, opened a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Chimaltenango, Guatemala.
The International Medical Outreach Program (IMO), a collaboration between Atrium Health and the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte, inaugurated the newly established NICU in January.
Dr. Juan Guillermo Cueto Rivas, director of Hospital Nacional de Chimaltenango told those in attendance, including government officials, “It has been a great blessing and a huge benefit for our community. We have been receiving patients from distant hospitals like Uspantán, Nebaj and Quiché, which means this benefit extends beyond Chimaltenango. Personally, it is a satisfaction to fulfill a dream.”
IMO is in the process to identify and upgrade a series of NICU’s in rural hospitals throughout Central America, in an effort to help fight the soaring infant mortality rate. The motivation to equip NICU’s was fueled by the overwhelming success of a “pilot” neonatal ICU installed by IMO at the Hospital Nacional de Cobán, where the infant mortality rate was cut by fifty percent. This recently established unit in Chimaltenango is expected to yield the same results.
“Before installation of this equipment, these hospitals were faced with treating critically ill infants with very little or no resources. This donation will now give every baby a chance to survive,” said Theresa Johnson, Director of IMO. Next step: training. Medical staff from Levine Children’s Hospital will travel to Chimaltenango to provide training to the local health care providers.
A special thanks to Biomeds Without Borders who joined the effort by installing the medical equipment, giving hands-on equipment training and troubleshooting tips to the staff, and to Chiquita Brands who transported the equipment to Guatemala.