Current and Archived News Stories
By Rajmund Dabrowski
An Oct. 8, 2016, celebration of two anniversaries by Clinica Adventista Ana Stahl (CAAS) — its beginning 90 years ago and 10 years of involvement with Centura's Global Health Initiatives (GHI)* — brought 1,500 participants to Iquitos, Peru. Those gathered represent the Seventh-day Adventist faith community, former patients, civic leaders, leaders of sister institutions from Lima and Juliaca, as well as representatives of GHI from Denver, Colorado.
|Clinica Adventista Ana Stahl celebrates 90 years of serving the Iquitos, Peru, community and 10 years of partnership with Centura's Global Health Initiatives.
Photo by Rajmund Dabrowski
The celebration featured patients and stories of how their lives were changed through the assistance of CAAS medical professionals and hundreds of volunteers from Denver hospitals. The event also introduced Total Health, a new initiative moving GHI’s efforts beyond treating disease and facilitating best practices in healthcare, to promoting prevention and lifestyle changes through “the best hospital in the region,” as Clinica is regarded by the area municipal authorities.
Though he visited Iquitos and was involved with the medical needs of CAAS, David Watson, M.D., explained the importance of elevating GHI’s involvement by introducing the Total Health concept. “We are looking at populations from a total health standpoint instead of just a disease [angle], but also psychological, preventative, nutritional, and more,” he said.
“We are continuing the good efforts done with surgical teams, with education, [and] we are looking toward an exciting new partnership with the endeavor surrounding Total Health,” he added.
Watson said he feels “a great deal of satisfaction and pride in the tremendous work that has occurred in the last ten years with the population and how they have partnered with their colleagues in Colorado.” He is looking forward to progress in the next 10 years.
The seven-member GHI team visiting Peru included Greg Hodgson, GHI director; Stephen King, vice president for mission integration for Centura Health South Denver; David Watson, GHI chief medical officer; and architect Steve Carr.
As the Total Health project is in its infancy, the team’s presence was important in evaluating the needs and proposing a recommendation to build new facilities in Manati I Zona village, an hour by boat from Iquitos, on the Amazon River. The village has 500 inhabitants and is the largest in the immediate 1,500-strong vicinity of scattered villagers. Meeting with a group of excited and engaged villagers, the GHI team was joined by regional civic leaders from Indiana District, as well as Milka Brañez, CAAS CEO and hospital personnel.
“We will be the winners. After all, we will be first to have this project established here,” Hermoyenes Horales Ramos, president of the village council, said to the applause of the villagers. Much of the time in Manati was spent in selecting a site for a medical center.
Steve Carr, who has been involved with designing medical facilities for several decades, said the building proposal needs to reflect the indigenous character of the area.
Listening to community needs came first. Carr said, “They are helping to choose what they want. [We need] to understand the craftsmanship that exists in the area, and indigenous ways that work for them.” Watching the architect take pictures of the patterns and textures reflecting the area and cultural values, Carr is expecting to propose solutions early next year.
"In reality, our mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ does not recognize borders," said Greg Hodgson. “During the 10 years of GHI mission, 1,800 volunteers performed medical services and GHI assisted in strengthening health systems in several countries, including Nepal, Rwanda, and Peru.”
|Photo by Rajmund Dabrowski
Long Term Results
The GHI anniversary report about its mission reveals that nearly 48,000 individuals have been impacted; and medical teams have performed 2,082 surgeries, treating nearly 44,000 patients. As the GHI efforts focused on partnership with Brañez and her staff, Hodgson noted the support extended to CAAS by sister Adventist hospitals — Juliaca American Clinic and Lima's Good Hope Clinic — whose leaders participated in the Iquitos celebration.
“Helping each other and celebrating the success of one, we celebrate our joined efforts,” said CAAS staffer. Recalling the GHI engagement with CAAS, King commented that, “when we came here with Greg in 2005, we saw a hospital that had not developed much over the years.” They discovered an abandoned MRI machine that had been sitting in disuse for years, and not much equipment. The facility had only six patients and about 15 rooms. But, said King, “We were so impressed by the mission and the spirit of the leaders and the hospital staff.”
Addressing the Iquitos celebration, King congratulated CAAS on the first 10 years of progress for the Iquitos hospital, and the stories each patient represents, stories of lives that have been changed. Looking at what Clinica now represents, King described “an amazing transformation, with its modern lab, modern imaging equipment, and excellent surgical services.”
“Doctora Milka,” as everyone calls Brañez, agrees. During her five years as CEO, she noted the progress made, the result of their partnership with Centura Health and its Denver hospitals specifically in the training and services they provided to the community — and especially in the poor areas of the Amazon basin.
“The work we have been doing together has been very productive. Increased modernization, and the addition of an intensive care unit, was missing. Today we have 40 beds and 230 medical personnel and staff. GHI has helped us to grow professionally and has extended social services to the community,” Brañez said.
As cooperation expands with Colorado Adventist hospitals and Centura Health Brañez is appreciative of what she and her team have already learned — and she’s dreaming of new hospital facilities with an emergency room.
As one observes the dedication and engagement of all involved, Clinica Adventista Ana Stahl is well on its way toward accomplishing their dreams.
— This article originally appeared on the Rocky Mountain Conference website.
* GHI was established in 2005 as an initiative of Centura Health. GHI was formed through the financial support of the Adventist hospitals in Colorado, Adventist Health System (AHS), and Catholic Health Initiatives (who joined with GHI in 2009). GHI is directed by Greg Hodgson and a team of advisors and volunteers.