IBD Program in Ecuador

For the past two years, the International Business Development program has worked with Andean Health and Development, which is a U.S. based 501(c)3 corporation that builds and staffs hospitals in rural Ecuador to serve the poorest of the poor, daily saving the lives of women and children and long term improving the quality of the lives of many.The hospitals are self-sustaining, which is the result of private-public partnerships with the local, regional and national government in Ecuador. In addition, they operate a large residency program for doctors and nurses in cooperation with the Catholic University of Quito and La Concordia University. AHD was founded in 1995 by Dr. David Gaus and Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame, and Past President of the Rockefeller Foundation, to establish models of self-sustainable, comprehensive healthcare in poor, rural areas of Latin America where there are high risk populations of women and children.

I was fortunate to be able to visit Ecuador earlier this month and see AHD’s hospital in Pedro Vicente Maldonado.I flew into the capital, Quito, which is at 9200 feet altitude and is surrounded by even higher volcanoes and mountains covered by scrub brush and rock. The city itself is quite manageable with some pretty parks and a charming Old Town with lovely churches and colonial architecture. The drive between Quito and Pedro Vicente Maldonado (PVM) is spectacular – as you leave the city, you drive through a mountain pass to lower elevations on a road that hugs the side of the mountains – the vegetation becomes lush and tropical, with waterfalls, very rural and sparsely inhabited. Really beautiful. The roads are perfectly paved and well maintained…

My day at PVM hospital was interesting – PVM is the only hospital in the area, so people come from far away. The next closest hospital is in Quito (3 hours by bus) or Santo Domingo (2.5 hours by bus). The hospital was very clean and seemed well run, providing basic care related to injuries, pediatrics, obstetrics, and communicable diseases. The hospital had an x-ray machine that looked like it was from 100 years ago (not they had x-rays then) — I was told that they can’t buy x-rays second hand (which they could potentially afford) because they are outlawed by the International Atomic Agency or someone like that because they are used in the drug trade. I don’t know how you use an x-ray in drug making, but evidently they do. While there, I heard again and again about the hospital’s issues with cash flow – 70% of the hospital’s funding comes from social security, 20% from self-pay, and 10% is uncompensated (uninsured). The problem is that the government is only now paying what is owed from social security in February 2010!!

Happy to have the IBD connection with AHD!

—Kristi Raube

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