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Bolivian bishop thanks Chambersburg Hospital staff

Summit Health Medical Mission Team helped get clinic up and running

Summit Health Medical Mission Team helped get clinic up and running

January 25, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. ? A Bolivian bishop met with local residents Thursday morning at Chambersburg Hospital, thanking members of the hospital staff for their help in opening a medical clinic in his country last year.

"Thank you for the help you have given Bolivia," Bishop Carlos Poma of the Independent Evangelical Methodist Church said through an interpreter. "That clinic is open and now it's working."

Last September, a group of 17 people, most of them Summit Health care professionals, traveled to El Alto, Bolivia, a city of about 650,000 mostly poor people that surrounds the capital of La Paz.

The building was in place, but lacked the equipment, supplies, medications and staff to open, Poma said. The Summit Health Medical Mission Team packed hundreds of pounds of supplies and medications into their suitcases and took furnishings and equipment for the clinic.

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They also helped raise the few hundred dollars a month it takes to hire a physician and nurse to treat patients, Chambersburg Hospital Chaplain Paul L. Yeun said at the time.

The cost of private clinics is out of reach for most Bolivians and the standard of care in government-run clinics is appalling, Poma said.

"They mistreat the patients and sometimes don't attend to them," Poma said. Many people die in their homes rather than seek treatment at government hospitals, he said.

Corruption is the basic problem with government health care, Poma said.

An ecumenical group of five churches, including a Catholic church and different Protestant denominations, has banded together in El Alto to try to coordinate emergency health care services for the population, but outside financial support is still needed, he said.

"I have come here asking you if we can work together helping those who need us," Poma said. "If we help each other, together we will save the lives of many brothers and sisters."

Another group of Summit Health volunteers will be going back to El Alto this fall, Yeun said.

"We are awaiting you in October with joy," Poma said.

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