A Message From Partner for Surgery President, Todd Peterson
These are extraordinary times. I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. My family is adjusting to this “new normal,” doing our best to maintain some daily structure and playing lots of board games! We also feel incredibly blessed, understanding that we are far better off than most in the world.
As in the US and most other countries, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on Guatemala. All travel into the country has been suspended and a curfew is in place from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. in an effort to prevent the spread. These strict measures were necessary because the Guatemalan health system is ill-prepared to test and provide the critical care needed for those who may develop COVID-19. Thankfully, the number of Guatemalan cases has been minimal and we pray this continues.
As you can imagine, the coronavirus epidemic has caused a major disruption in Partner for Surgery’s important work of providing life-changing surgical care to Guatemala’s most marginalized communities. Six surgical teams and two rural triage missions have been cancelled and additional teams scheduled for the summer and fall remain tentative. Together with our Guatemalan sister organization, we are working hard to keep core staff available so they can resume support of surgical teams and rural medical triage missions when this crisis is over. In the meantime, staff hours will be reduced and focus will shift to ensuring the survival of the babies in our Cleft Infant Nutrition Program while they await surgery.
Fortunately, we completed two rural triage missions and three surgical teams already this year. The last team returned to the US just hours before travel restrictions were implemented. During that short timeframe, our wonderful volunteers identified 478 patients from rural communities and performed 219 surgeries. As you can imagine, many more patients are waiting for surgery, including more than 150 infants who depend on us for formula and basic checkups.
Partner for Surgery is navigating a path forward to maintain critical Guatemalan staff and programs in this unprecedented situation. Thank you all for your incredible generosity. For those of you in a position to do so, please continue your support during these most challenging times. Be assured that we will use your donations wisely.