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International Medical Outreach Program Donates Equipment for New ICUs in Guatemala
Francis Robicsek, MD and SVP Jim Olsen
Francis Robicsek, MD, with James Olsen, Senior Vice President of Materials Resource Management at Carolinas HealthCare System, and his wife Claudia Olsen

Carolinas HealthCare System representatives joined Guatemalan government officials, hospital staff, and residents for the opening of the first set of comprehensive intensive care units (ICUs) in the city of Quetzaltenango.

The opening – located in one of the country’s largest public hospitals, Hospital Nacional de Occidente – was made possible with support from Carolinas HealthCare System’s International Medical Outreach (IMO) program, which donated more than 14,000 pounds of equipment (worth over $1.2 million if purchased new), including bassinets, ventilators, patient monitors, stretchers and patient beds.

Francis Robicsek, MD, with James Olsen, Senior Vice President of Materials Resource Management at Carolinas HealthCare System, and his wife Claudia Olsen

“It is a privilege for us to be part of a project of such magnitude and to provide necessary medical resources to communities that need it the most,” said Francis Robicsek, MD, PhD, vice president of international medical outreach, a partnership between Carolinas HealthCare System and the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte. “Our ongoing involvement with medical assistance projects in Central America has allowed us to help assure free access to basic care services that would not be available otherwise. We look forward to continue to assist such communities in their efforts to provide quality healthcare in Guatemala.”

Quetzaltenango, also known as “Xela,” is Guatemala’s second largest city, with a population of nearly 250,000, and is one of the fastest growing cities in Central America. As a public hospital, Hospital Nacional de Occidente offers free care services and treats a large number of medically underserved patients, primarily those who live in the Southwestern region of the country. Most of the time, the hospital is at capacity and unable to provide more advanced treatment options, due to lack of funding and older equipment.

In fact, prior to this equipment donation, the rural hospital had only a minimally-equipped neonatal and pediatric intensive care unit, lacking an established adult intensive care unit.

“We are most grateful for this donation as it will improve how we operate our adult and pediatric intensive care units, which reach capacity every day,” said Ligia Cruz Avila, MD, deputy director of Hospital Nacional de Occidente. “The equipment provides a new set of resources that will allow us to enhance the services we offer our patients, in particular those with limited means.”

The equipment donations were also made possible with support from Chiquita Brands and Harris Teeter Inc., who partnered with the System’s international medical outreach program to promote quality healthcare and education in Central America. The two organizations provided free land and sea transportation of medical equipment from a warehouse in Charlotte, NC, to Quetzaltenango.

Since the 1960s, the program has donated a variety of medical equipment to hospitals and clinics worldwide and has facilitated free educational opportunities for medical personnel from facilities globally. To date, it has helped increase access to healthcare for thousands of patients in 29 countries. In 2012 alone, it donated 390 pieces of medical equipment, worth $4.1 million.

International Medical Outreach
Representatives from Carolinas HealthCare System and the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte meeting with Quetzaltenango Congresswoman Delia Paniagua after the ICU opening
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