First on the morning agenda was a small #clinic facility. We did not know what to expect entirely but our imaginations painted a picture of a dark, under-supplied, concrete block building with crowded halls of ailing patients. (Incredible how movies can shape our mind’s eye, right?) Our scooter pulled onto a gravel driveway in front of a clean, brightly painted two story building which didn’t exactly satisfy my visual… good thing too. I had an appointment scheduled with #peggy stranges, R.N. or to everyone who knows her, “#nurse peggy“. She is a mainstay on #roatan. Everyone knows who she is and what she does. Granted, Roatan is not a big place but it was still surprising to see how tightly connected the community is.
It was a weekday when we visited #clinica esperanza and honestly, I expected to see patients in the clinic awaiting services. The day we arrived this was not the case. The clinic was closed and would undoubtedly be closed the following day also due to some political difficulties happening at the time we were there. When we found Nurse Peggy, she was talking to three young #women in scrubs; interns who would return to med school in the fall. The tour of her facility stunned me. Here we were, standing in the middle of an impeccably clean, first world facility in the middle of this tiny island just off the coast of #honduras. The facility was the brain child of Nurse Peggy and it all started the way so many great stories started… on her kitchen table. No, literally.
Nurse Peggy was a diver and had volunteered her time as a nurse all over Honduras. When she re-located to Roatan she had not planned to open a full scale clinic but she did know that she would still feel the need to serve her community. In 2002 her kitchen became her “clinic. Utilizing her extensive networks of dentists, doctors and nurses from around the world, Nurse Peggy managed to get donations of land and labor and raise enough dollars to build a clinic to make decent medical care accessible for the people of Roatan. Women and children make up the bulk of the patients the clinic sees. The clinic provides care much like you would expect at an urgent care outpatient facility but also treats a fair amount of patients for hypertension and diabetes. The services provided would be absolutely out of the question for most patients of Clinica Esperanza if it were not for the vision of Nurse Peggy.
Clinica Esperanza brings together teams of extremely qualified doctors, nurses and intern volunteers from across the globe to keep the clinic doors open. Thankfully, the clinic has a full-time physician, Dr. Cherrington, Honduran born and raised. There are a few other local full-time staff members but Nurse Peggy actively encourages and seeks out doctors, dentists and nurse volunteers for short and long term work trips to Roatan. This IS paradise, you know. The university relationships cultivated over the years have fostered a steady flow of medical student volunteers who come to Roatan and help with general operations, education, awareness and more. They do get a little time here and there for an afternoon dive, of course.
The politics on the island tend to be the biggest hurdle of all for Clinica Esperanza. They get donations of supplies, equipment and medicines. Carnival Cruise Lines donates mattresses, pillows, sheets and chairs to the clinic because they know it will go to good use through Nurse Peggy. When it comes to getting the paperwork and proper licenses through the bureaucracy to permit the fully equipped, 2nd floor maternity ward and nursery, that is another story. The red tape and politics have been a long standing fight for Clinica Esperanza. The log term goals of the Clinica Esperanza project is to replicate the same program throughout the world wherever necessary. After meeting Peggy Stranges, R.N., I have no doubt her gumption and persistence will #ring triumphantly.