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Center for Global Health | Colorado School of Public Health

Notes from the Field


Marco Celada, MD is the Director of the newly opened clinic, part of the Center for Human Development - the University of Colorado's first ever international medical facility.  Rebekah Gaensbauer, MD, MPH and Kimberly Insel, MD, MPH are both Global Health Fellows with the Center for Global Health who will be making regular working visits to the clinic. 

They have all agreed to share with us updates of their work and experiences in Guatemala in their own words.  See their bios in the left hand column.


August 2014 - Kimberly Insel, MD, MPH

The Center for Human Development, the clinic in the Trifinio region of Guatemala witnessed record growth in July. The month began with the completion of the annual teaching conference at the Coatepeque Hospital, about 45 minutes away from the Center for Human Development. Providers from the University of Colorado including Amy Nacht, CNM, Gretchen Heinrichs, MD, DTMH, Edwin Asturias, MD, Marco Celada, MD, Ana Williams and Rachel Seay, MD, joined guest speakers from Quezaltenango and Guatemala City. The conference targeted residents, attending doctors, nurses, and nursing students at Coatepeque Hospital. Immediately following the conference, we witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of patients arriving to our clinic.

Lead by our clinic nurses Zucely and Jahana, we saw many sick children, adults, and pregnant women. Common diagnoses included gastroenteritis, parasitic infections, pneumonia, and dengue fever. In total we went form seeing approximately ten patients a week at the advent of the clinic to 30 patients a day in July. With the power of three visiting doctors staffing our clinic throughout the month, Rachel Seay, MD, Maya Bunik, MD, MSPH, FABM, FAAP, and myself were able to expand our work beyond the clinic walls.

In addition to spending six weeks seeing obstetric patients in clinic, Dr. Rachel Seay engaged in hands on training with the obstetrics residents in the Coatepeque Hospital. She taught 2-3 weekly didactic sessions, guided residents through complex fetal monitoring cases, proctored c-sections and supervised pelvic ultrasounds.  In order to better meet resident needs at the teaching conference for July 2015, she asked residents to complete a skills self-assessment evaluation for future curricular planning.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bunik worked with our tecnicas (community outreach workers) and comadronas (local birth attendants) teaching breastfeeding techniques through role-play and one-on-one discussions. In addition, Dr. Bunik was able to make rounds with the nurses and nutritionists and deliver a total of 25 pump kits in the Coatepeque Hospital.

Our work as providers was complemented by our ongoing community outreach projects. Our vibrant tecnicas, Millie and Sairy, spent the month of July continuing their diligent community outreach work for pregnant women and children living in the communities surrounding our clinic. Also out in the community in July was our fearless student, Ian Eisenhauer, who is entering his second year at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Ian completed a two-month pilot study on water quality in households throughout the communities of Los Encuentros and Chicarines. In doing so Ian not only was able show levels of E.coli in public and private wells in these communities, but he also developed the first detailed map of its kind for this region.

What was most impressive in this month of growth is how necessary an individual and community approach is to improving the health of our populations. We are not just treating acute illness. We are treating the consequences of a population’s lack of access to care, lack of access to routine vaccination, and lack of access to clean water. Although I write from our clinic, our approach will extend beyond it to include soccer camps in the schools (thanks Marko and Larissa Babiak, Maya Bunik’s children), initiation of pre-natal group visits in households, and introduction of new training opportunities for residents from within and outside of Guatemala. Under the leadership of Marco Celada, our continued growth at the Center for Human Development will provide greater access to care for workers and families in this region.


July 2014 - Marco Celada, MD

After having a bit of a slow start at the new Center for Human Development, things have certainly picked up. Since our opening in April, we had a small turn out number of patients for the first three months. This has allowed us to fine-tune the operation of the clinic without being overwhelmed. 

 A short survey was passed around among patients, employees of the plantation in management positions, and community leaders. Based on the results of this survey, the following strategies were implemented:

  • Open up the doors to the entire community and not just the plantation workers and their families;
  • Shift from a voucher system to a cash up-front and discount system as a form of payment;
  • Lower the price of a visit even more, from the equivalent of $5 down to $2 for employees of the plantation and their families, and $3 for non-employees;
  • We increased our efforts to speed up the approval of the license to operate our clinical lab and were able to start operating as of July;
  • We obtained two desperately needed big donations of medications which has allowed us to provide free meds for a lot of our patients, and has brought us closer to opening our pharmacy (scheduled to open by the 1st week of September);
  • We scheduled several days of free obstetric ultrasounds for pregnant women, and our head nurse was trained by our team of ob-gyn faculty led by Gretchen Heinrichs, MD, DTMH.

The implementation of these strategies yielded great results; we went from seeing an average of 20 patients a week to an average of 20 patients a day. A couple of days we’ve had up to 30 or more patients. 

Fortunately when these changes happened we had a great team of providers at our facility, including faculty from Children’s Hospital Colorado and volunteers from Denver Health. As the number of patients increased and the number of services increased we rapidly created a good name for ourselves in the surrounding communities and among the plantation workers. 

This summer has certainly been a busy one here at Trifinio in southwest Guatemala, as we have had many visitors doing different types of work for the clinic and the community.  From volunteers working on a study to test private and public sources of water, soccer minicamps at the local school and  team of doctors and midwives participating at the 2nd Congreso Internacional of OB-GYN at the local Hospital of Coatepeque.  We have also had faculty of Children’s Hospital Colorado and our new fellows at the Center for Global Health, to the first trip of the University of Colorado Dental School team who treated the children from the local school. 

 These have been some of the exciting activities happening at our clinic over the last few months and only the beginning of many more to come.


May 2014 - Marco Celada, MD

The new clinic in Guatemala is beautiful. After years of planning and preparation, the new white walls now stand out from the surrounding banana and palm trees. It is impressive to see what the collaboration of the Center for Global Health at the Colorado School of Public Health and AgroAmérica have accomplished. There are six clinic rooms, two delivery rooms, one room for the new babies, and a dental clinic. Those together with a clinical and a research laboratory, pharmacy, central nurse station, new computers, and an electronic medical record make the facility look exactly like what everyone hoped it would look like. In this isolated and long abandoned rural area of Guatemala you’ll also find a modern electronic and communications system, with high speed wireless internet throughout the clinic and laboratory. There is also a server linking all computers to a home network, desktop computers and laptops for the use of the staff. It is designed to be a place for excellent patient care that meets the standards of United States medical practices in rural Guatemala.

The goal of the clinic is to impact the health of workers of AgroAmérica and their families. An initial rapid needs assessment of the community showed that some of the biggest challenges to health in the area relate to maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, which is why the clinic has a large focus on pediatrics and maternal health. The clinic was inaugurated March 2014 and opened for business April 2014. It has already impacted the community by decreasing the cost barrier to families, which is important to families that may make only enough to put food on the table and have little left over for anything else. A visit at the clinic is around $5 versus at least $25 at the closest hospital plus the cost of transportation and the loss of a day’s wages. We have seen a wide array of acute complaints ranging from a child whose neck and upper chest were covered with oozing blisters from bullous impetigo to a young man who hobbled in on a left leg likely broken in 2 places from a motorcycle accident.

April 2014 we had our first pediatric resident from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Jake Mark, MD who arrived at the clinic to start his global health rotation. Jake has been a great asset and a much needed resource. His experience here has been truly global. Besides his clinical responsibilities Jake has helped fine tune some of the clinic’s operational procedures, helped to organize the area of pharmacy and meds, sort through hundreds of boxes of donated medical supplies, tested out our electronic records program, Clinical Fusion, just to name a few.

There are many challenges ahead. However, seeing what the collaboration between the Center for Global Health and AgroAmérica has already accomplished, it is exciting to think of the possibilities we have here to improve the health of not just our community but also to create an innovative health model that can be replicated around the world. ​​​​​

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