Poverty-stricken villagers seeking a better life have been moving to the city of Santa Cruz in unprecedented numbers. The Hospital Japonés, a government-run hospital in Santa Cruz serving the poor, turns away many patients due to a lack of critical equipment to meet the needs of the rapidly growing population. There are no reasonable options for these patients because other hospitals in Santa Cruz are expensive, private facilities.
In the summer of 2018, after recognizing a need for sanitary housing for new mothers in the hospital, Yapay Bolivia constructed a private NICU center for mothers to wash clothes (including diapers), shower and privately pump breast milk. The center greatly contributes to the comfort and health of mothers and new babies. Additionally, community members from the United States created postpartum kits that new mothers have received through the Hospital Japonés’ Labor and Delivery unit. Yapay Bolivia delivered these bags, along with Days for Girls hygiene kits, to the Hospital Japonés in the summer of 2019.
In Yapay Bolivia’s first interaction with the Hospital Japonés in 2017, Yapay Bolivia purchased $30,000 worth of new life-saving equipment, including vitals monitors and infusion pumps. The equipment was purchased brand new at competitive prices using the Santa Cruz hospital system suppliers with manufacturer warranties to ensure longevity and bolster economic growth in the region. The donated equipment to the Hospital Japonés has increased its capacity to treat poverty-stricken patients in Santa Cruz.
The Hospital Japonés reports monthly on equipment usage. Two independent auditors report quarterly on equipment maintenance. This Hospital Japonés responded positively to the tracking system of the machines’ usage and has since implemented it throughout the hospital. From 2016 to the 2020, the total expenditure for the Hospital Japonés is $71,202.05. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In 2018, Yapay Bolivia constructed a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Mothers’ Center on the Hospital Japonés campus. In addition, Yapay Bolivia built a private breast pumping room and donated breast pumps, hospital beds, hygiene kits and postpartum kits to the Hospital Japonés to support new mothers during their stay.
Prior to construction of the women’s center, mothers of NICU patients had to wash their clothes
(including their babies’ diapers) in a public hospital bathroom and hang them to dry in the hallway. The mothers didn’t have a place to bathe during their often weeks-
long stay at the hospital with their babies. There was only one breast pump available for several mothers of NICU patients, and it was located in a public hallway in the hospital.
Community members from the United States came together to create postpartum kits that new mothers have received through the Hospital Japonés’ Labor and Delivery unit. The fabric for the bags was donated and several women made bags, newborn caps, and blankets for new mothers. Yapay Bolivia delivered these bags, along with Days for Girls hygiene kits, to the Hospital Japonés in the summer of 2019.
Hospital de Ninos
The Hospital de Niños, or Children’s Hospital, located in Santa Cruz, was brought to the attention of Yapay Bolivia by Oscar Urende, the late health minister of the province of Santa Cruz. The Hospital de Niños is the only major pediatric hospital in the region serving poverty-stricken patients. In 2019, thanks to its generous donors, Yapay Bolivia was able to donate a brand new anesthesia machine and surgical equipment to the Hospital de Niños.
The Hospital de Niños desired to open an additional operating room due to high demand for pediatric surgical procedures. The hospital previously had temporary use of a pediatric anesthesia machine when Operation Smile had visited the hospital, but OS took the anesthesia machine with them when they left the hospital.
Pediatric anesthesia equipment is not available through Bolivian medical supply companies, so Yapay Bolivia purchased a new pediatric anesthesia machine in the U.S. and personally delivered it to the Hospital de Niños. The purchased machine was specifically requested by the Hospital de Niños and was the exact make and model Operation Smile had used; the physicians had been trained on it during the OS visit.
Although Yapay Bolivia experienced difficulty bringing the machine through customs due to its high price and value, it worked hard with the hospital’s engineer and lawyers to get it through customs within 24 hours instead of the predicted 2-3 months.
Since donating the anesthesia equipment, the Hospital de Niños has performed many more pediatric procedures. Because of the new equipment and anesthesia machine donated by Yapay Bolivia, and thanks to its generous donors, this project has been extremely beneficial to the patients of the Hospital de Niños and the broader Santa Cruz community.
Hospital Daniel Bracamonte
At nearly 14,420 feet–only 4,000 feet shy of the elevation of Mt. Everest base camp–rests the city
of Potosi, founded by Spanish Conquistadors in 1545 and home to 140,000 Bolivian citizens. The natural beauty and historic Spanish architecture are tempered by the gravity of the healthcare situation in this mining town.
Sister Romalda (pictured left) serves the Hospital Bracamonte, the hospital serving the poor of Potosi, as a nurse and nun. Ill and impoverished women and children turn to Nurse Romalda, or Romi as she is affectionately called, for help and assistance when they have no one else to turn to. “I came here from Argentina seventeen years ago with the intention to preach the word of God to the people here in Potosi, but when I saw the degree of their suffering, when I saw how hungry and cold and weak they were from hours of traveling in search of medical care I thought to myself ‘these people don’t need the word of God right now, they need the hand of God,’ and I put my Bible on the table and set to helping.”
That was nearly two decades ago. Every day, Romi can be found cataloging medical supplies and medications in the little building behind the hospital where people show up between 10 am and noon to receive their free or reduced cost medications.
Yapay Bolivia supplies Sister Romalda with an endowment to help purchase medications and provisions for the poverty-stricken patients at the Hospital Daniel Bracamonte. She reports on usage and purchases regularly to Yapay Bolivia.