Mission Honduras LeMars: Medical Information
Dorothy Day (1897-1980)
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Donations Health Model Suyatel

Medical Clinic
 On April 13th, 2003, two days after the Gehlen Mission Honduras 'student trip' returned from their mission work in Honduras, the official opening of 'Clinica Asistencial La Caridad' in El Guante, Honduras, F.M., Central America, occurred, culminating in a two-year project of Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras and Mission Honduras LeMars.  The previous day, Monday, April 12th, saw dignitaries of all kinds descend on the small village of El Guante for the official dedication ceremonies.  The President of Honduras, originally scheduled to speak at the opening, was detained at the last minute and was not able to attend.  The Honduran 'Minister of Health,' however, did share the program with many legislators, doctors, nurses, and village representatives in a two hour ceremony.  Gehlen Mission Honduras 'Changing Lives,' and Mission Honduras LeMars, were represented by Sister Valerie Knoche and Sister Barb Zimmer, longtime missionary sisters in Honduras, who spoke of the good people of Le Mars, Iowa, and how their efforts brought health care to so many thousands.  Representatives of Gehlen Mission Honduras and Mission Honduras LeMars were invited but were not able to attend.

clinic under constructionclinic walls being built

Clinica Asistencial La Caridad under construction in 2003

The clinic idea originated in the spring of 2002 during Gehlen's student mission trip that year.  By late summer 2002 Gehlen began raising monies for this project.  At the same time a group of Le Mars citizens applied for a 'not-for-profit organization status' from the IRS titled 'Mission Honduras LeMars.'  Mission Honduras LeMars was granted not-for-profit status in late October 2002.  At that time fund raising for the clinic project shifted from Gehlen to the not-for-profit.  Until the shift occurred Gehlen had raised about $30,000 for the construction.  Once the shift occurred all monies raised thereafter were done so under the name Mission Honduras LeMars.  Under Mission Honduras LeMars the group raised about $70,000 to finish the clinic construction, culminating with its dedication ceremonies on April 12th and its official first day opening on April 13th.

workmen in front of partially constructed clinic

The picture above shows the Honduras and Le Mars men taking a picture break while working on construction of the clinic in the middle of January 2003.

  In early 2003 it was learned the village of El Guante, site of the clinic, voted to turn the control of the clinic over to the World Bank.  The World Bank (not really a bank as such, but rather a relief agency of the United Nations), wanted control of the clinic to set up a 'model' for other clinics in 3rd world countries.  They really wanted to try something new and this was it.  It brought free health care to all those who were not employed, or so poor they could not afford it.  It brought health care to those that had full-time jobs but made them pay only a few dollars a year for full access to the clinic.  According to World Bank officials the clinic was to become  self-supporting within three years.  When the clinic opened on April 13th, it was staffed by one doctor, two nurses, two office people, and one administrator.

Hondurans walking to the dedication

Clinic Dedication Ceremony


People at the dedication from a nearby village


  According to Richard Seivert, director of Mission Honduras LeMars, because the village of El Guante moved ahead with the new clinic, other great things began to happen for these people.  For example, the Riecken Foundation, an international group that builds libraries in small rural villages around the world, came to El Guante and constructed a new library for the village.  Once construction was complete, the foundation opened this library with 1,000 books and a few computers.  In El Guante, a village that still gets water only twice a week, the library will eventually have internet capability.  According to Seivert, the blend of reality in their everyday lives and the future is going on every day in El Guante.  He said he fully expects other great things to happen for this village and the surrounding area, from small business to improved education.  Seivert said the hope for the future is great.  These people who have very little can teach all of us in the States a great deal.

Dedication Day of completed clinic

Dedication day of finished clinic, Holy Thursday, 2003. The picture shows guests starting to arrive.

 "The people of Le Mars, the surrounding area, and throughout the United States, can be proud of the efforts of Mission Honduras LeMars and the things we have done for the poor of Honduras.  The clinic, water projects, the fence around the Riecken Foundation Library, bringing children with health care problems to the U. S. and specifically Le Mars, along with numerous other efforts, are only a few of the things with which we are involved.  Many thanks to all the fine people that have contributed to Mission Honduras LeMars and helped bring health care to the village of El Guante and the surrounding area.  Because of the people of Le Mars and all those from throughout the country who gave even a dollar toward the clinic project, the world is a little better place today, and that is good," Seivert said.

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery
rather than avenge it?
                                             ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Medical Equipment Donated
  Throughout the late fall 2002 Mission Honduras LeMars sought out and obtained the equipment that would go into this new clinic. Most of the equipment obtained for the clinic came from the Alina Hospital Systems out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They simply donated it to our group, and International Health Services, also from Minneapolis, was able to ship it to Honduras for us along with other supplies. We also obtained a portable X-ray unit, donated to us from 'dms' Health Group out of Fargo, North Dakota.  The Sonosite Corporation, Seattle, Washington, donated a portable ultrasound unit, and Leeds Precisions Instruments, Minneapolis, MN, donated a microscope for lab work.  These items were shipped to the clinic in the summer of 2003.  We also received and continue to receive tremendous support from Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars, Iowa.

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Health for the People
  This new clinic located in El Guante, Honduras, brought needed health care to thousands and thousands of rural village people who have little to no medical care.  Mission Honduras LeMars promised and raised the funds necessary to build the clinic, and the government of Honduras, through the Ministry of Health and the World Bank, has staffed it with doctors, nurses, and support people.  Since the clinic was completed, the people of El Guante formed 'Fundacion La Caridad', a nonprofit organization in Honduras to continue the good work, with David Castro, chief administrator.

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We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.
                                          ~ Luciano de Crescenzo

El Guante Clinic Viewed As Model 
The medical clinic in El Guante, known as ‘Clinica Asistencial La Caridad’,  built in 2002 and opened in 2003, is being looked on by the Honduras government and Ministry of Health of Honduras, as the model they would like to use in building 36 more new clinics throughout the country. According to Richard Seivert, director of Mission Honduras LeMars and Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras (the groups that provided all the funding for construction), “the government is interested in using the organizational method used by the community of El Guante when they construct new clinics in the future.” Seivert said the original community based organization known as ‘el Patronato’(meaning community) administered the clinic. The community appealed to the Minister of Health for funding. Upon hearing about the organizational structure of the clinic, Dr. Roberto Gutierrez, a World Bank advisor to the MOH, realized that the Clinica Asistencial La Caridad was a new, community-based model of healthcare management. Dr. Gutierrez arranged for the World Bank Health Reform Project to establish a cooperative agreement with the Minister of Health to finance the operation of the clinic in El Guante. The original arrangement stipulated that those in the village with enough income would contribute to the healthcare of those in the village with less or no income. Administrative control, however, remained at the local level, which allowed the community to retain a sense of ownership and pride. The MOH, with World Bank Money, pays US $19 per year per capita for the package of health services the clinic provides to the registered population of El Guante. Village residents contribute financially according to their ability, as determined by a socioeconomic study performed by the foundation. In going forward with this vision the MOH and World Bank want to see the same success in future clinics. According to Seivert, “they want the local control concept of healthcare management, used in El Guante, to spread to all clinics within the country.” Much of the success of ‘Clinica Asistencial La Caridad’ can be traced to the original ideas of Sister Val Knoche, Sister Barb Zimmer, (missionary Sisters in El Guante at the time), David Castro (administrator of the clinic), and the community members who had the vision for better health care for their people. To contribute to the clinic you may send donations to Mission Honduras LeMars.

In the right light, at the right time,
everything is extraordinary.

Clinic Annex Clinica Asistencial la Caridad

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Suyatel Clinic Ceded to Fundacion la Caridad
In late 2005, the medical clinic of Suyatel was ceded by the Honduras government to the foundation in El Guante. The El Guante clinic, built a few years ago by Gehlen Mission Honduras and Mission Honduras LeMars, established a foundation to run their clinic in El Guante. That foundation is know as Fundacion la Caridad and is supported by Mission Honduras LeMars funds throughout the year. The government of Honduras, through the Ministry of Health, along with the World Bank, has primary responsibility in funding rural medical clinics, including the El Guante clinic. MHL supports the clinics with special funding and equipment when needed.

Suyatel Clinic Patients in the waiting room of Suyatel Clinic

Fence Constructed Around Suyatel Clinic
   Mission Honduras LeMars funded the construction of a fence around the clinic in Suyatel. According to David Castro, administrator of both the clinics in El Guante and Suyatel the need was great. On a recent trip to Honduras, Richard Seivert, director of Mission Honduras LeMars saw first-hand the need for such a project. He said it was paramount that such security be taken.

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