3.13.2009

Clinica Esperanza

This week marks the second anniversary of the dedication of Nurse Peggy's clinic in Sandy Bay.


Don't be confused, though. Clinica Esperanza actually began five years ago in Peggy's kitchen.


A nurse from Ohio, Peggy had moved to Roatan to retire. Word of her presence spread up and down the beach, and soon islanders appeared on her doorstep seeking medical treatment. Then friends back home were sending her supplies and medicines. Before she knew it, she was busy all day long.


She outgrew the kitchen and moved the clinic to a downstairs apartment. Still not enough space, she relocated the two treatment rooms and pharmacy to the Son Rise mission. She found an amazing partner in Honduran-born Dr. Raymond Cherington, an island boy with a passion for helping people. Another amazing partner materialized: Arizona emergency medicine specialist Dr. Patrick Connell. Patrick, who first visited with a group of volunteer physicians, now devotes six months of every year to Clinica Esperanza.



In 2007, a vision for a first class, permanent facility offering the finest medical care available on Roatan island was realized. The 4,500 square foot clinic was incorporated and the doors of its first-floor ambulatory care center were opened.



Two years since the building's dedication, the clinic has gone from seeing 20 patients a day to 70 a day. 10,000 patients a year. They keep the fee for care impossibly low: 50 lempiras per visit. That's about $2.50. Including the medicines they send home with you.


Clinica Esperanza has been a key part of our lives for a while. Before we moved here, we often brought supplies down in our luggage. We collected sneakers from our friends to outfit Dr. Raymond's youth basketball team. And our friends continue to send supplies. A box organized by Phil came at Christmas, and just last month a box arrived from the Greater Hartford Arts Council with vitamins and cough syrup, organized by Judy. My former assistant Desiree is out there now spreading the word, inviting people to "join the cause" on Facebook. She's recruited more people than I have! Our family members have also chosen to make financial contributions to the clinic. I'm so honored by the generosity of spirit of all these people.


When Delaney and Hayden got sick for the first time on the island, we went straight to Clinica Esperanza. We were humbled to wait among the dozens of other families in line for help. Families that haven't always had access to preventative care. Families that haven't taken the availability of healthcare for granted all their lives like we have.


We always learn something by waiting our turn at Clinica Esperanza. Last month my parents helped me on several visits there with one sick twin or another. Here are Delaney and Hayden, with my mom Carol, making friends with another little waiting patient.


We've made the clinic our central island philanthropy, too. Mike has volunteered as a strategic planner, and I have become secretary of the Board.



We take inspiration from this team that refuses to be daunted by a third-world island's challenges. Dr. Patrick just related this story to "Peggy's Volunteers" on Facebook. I guess this is why and how they do it. One unique person at a time:
"The house call is alive and well in Roatan for those physically unable to visit the clinic. Pauline Sampson, RN, a volunteer from Ireland, was a frequent visitor to the home of Ms. Emily Connor Mann doing dressing changes on Ms Emily’s chronic leg ulcer. Ms. Emily was a West End institution watching the world from her porch. But sadly Ms. Emily passed away on March 1st after a brief illness at age 82.


Pauline had promised Ms. Emily that she would get the ulcer healed by Christmas. But Christmas came and Ms. Emily reminded Pauline of her promise. To which Pauline responded “I never said which Christmas.”


One Islander commented at Ms. Emily’s wake: “If Ms. Emily don’t get into heaven, there ain’t no use to any of us trying.”




To join the cause, go to


Tax deductible donations to Clinica Esperanza can also be sent by mail to:
Bay Islands Community Healthcare Association
1370 Old Wilmington Pike
West Chester, PA 19382-8211