Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock
Andy St. Pierre arriving at hospital with equipment

“It’s a simple story,” said one of the founding members of the Seniors and Friends of Isla Mujeres, “it’s a story about friends helping friends.  We love the island and we have a warm spot in our hearts for the people who make us feel so welcome here.” 

Last year an elderly visitor needed a wheelchair.  It quickly became obvious to the family members how difficult it was to find the equipment on Isla Mujeres. Through Dra. Tere Gómez at the Secretaría de Salud de Quintana Roo, the hospital near the original Super-X-Press store, they were able to find a wheelchair to use for the interim. 

Gary, Bonnie, MaryBeth, Denis and Andy

Several of the original members of the Seniors and Friends of Isla Mujeres are foreigners, winter residents, staying at the Maria Leticia Apartments located on Juarez Avenue, however, recently many other residents and tourists have joined the fundraising efforts.  Once the group of friends started talking about the problem several people willingly donated money to purchase equipment. Then the group made arrangements to give the articles to the staff at the hospital and the Club de Gente Grande (Seniors’ Centre).  They invited me along for the presentation.  I arrived at the downtown clinic just as they were unloading a golf cart, stacked with four wheel chairs, two sets of crutches and two walkers. Impressive!

Checking the doctors “wish list” with Jorge Avila

Inside the hospital we were directed into a small meeting room at the back, where the medical personnel were assembling.  

As we waited for everyone to cram into the room, long-time resident Jorge Avila discussed the doctors “wish list” with Gary Van Lankvelt, Denis St. Pierre, and Andy St. Pierre.  
The list of urgently needed items totaled $15,000 pesos or around $1200.00 US.  

The “wish list” includes a fetal Doppler monitor, a handheld ECG/EKG cardiac monitor, cardiology stethoscope, an otoscope and ophthalmoscope kit, and oximeters.

Dr. David Valenzo Loaeza thanking the group 

Dr. David Valenzo Loaeza, Director, and Dra.Tere Gómez, Vice-Director of the Hospital were very pleased to be the recipients of this generous donation. The speeches were in Spanish, but Jorge Avila was able translate their appreciation to those of us who are still Spanish-challenged.  At the end of the presentation Dr. Valenzo asked if we would like a tour of the almost-completed new hospital, situated near the Hacienda Mundaca park. Sure!  We headed off to the facility, in a mini-cavalcade of vehicles.  Once inside the hospital we were asked not to take photographs, not until the official opening day sometime later this year.  

Seniors and Friends, with Doctora Tere Gomez

Located on the main floor is a large emergency ward, comfortable waiting area, several surgery suites, and laboratories.  

On the second floor, accessible by elevator, escalator, or stairs are beds for twenty-five patients, and an isolation ward for critical cases – about three times the capacity of the current hospital.  

The new facility is in need of more equipment, and more staff.  At the present time there are only three doctors available to cover the shifts 24-hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.  It’s an impossible situation.

View from the roof of the new hospital

Dr. Valenzo also recited a few interesting statistics.  Five years ago the hospital doctors wrote about 2000 prescriptions per year.  Now with the increase in full-time residents, part-time residents and tourists the doctors are writing around 40,000 prescriptions per year; 9000 of those prescriptions are for visiting foreigners.  That statistic alone is reason enough for foreign residents and visitors to become involved with helping equip the hospitals.

As one of the members said, “The Seniors and Friends of Isla Mujeres are looking at this as just the beginning of a longer term project.  We are planning to continue to raise funds and further develop a close working relationship with the local hospital and medical community, as well as the community in general.”  

Check out their FaceBook page: give them a big [LIKE].  Get involved with your community.  

At some point in our lives we all probably will require medical assistance in one form or another.  It would be great if the assistance was readily available on the island.  

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie


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