Hospital Daniel Bracamonte
At nearly 14,420 feet--only 4,000 feet shy of the elevation of Everest base camp--rests the city of Potosi, founded by Spanish Conquistadors in 1545 and home to 140,000 citizens of Bolivia. The natural beauty and historic Spanish architecture are tempered by the gravity of the healthcare situation in this mining town.
The International Pediatric Research Foundation concludes that “Bolivia’s infant mortality is the highest in the Western Hemisphere” and the maternal mortality rate is the highest in South America. Equally alarming is the neonatal mortality rate in certain departments of Bolivia like Potosi, averaging an astonishing “44 deaths per 1,000 live births” compared with the United States at “4 deaths per 1,000 live births.”
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 hopes to create an endowment to help Sister Romalda purchase medications and provisions for the poverty-stricken patients at the Hospital Daniel Bracamonte.