Ribbon cutting in Guatemala

In July, several leaders from Children’s Hospital Colorado, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Colorado School of Public Health, the Center for Global Health, and the Centers for Disease Control traveled to Guatemala to celebrate the opening of the new lodging facility at the Trifinio Center for Human Development.

The facility was made possible in part thanks to the efforts of deans and chairs from the various schools and departments at CU Anschutz who were instrumental in raising the $100,000 needed to complete the project. As a result, up to 25 visiting students, residents, faculty members, pharmacists, nurses and community health workers now have a comfortable and safe place to stay while working on site in the community at the family medical clinic, the dental clinic or at the soon-to-be-opened birthing clinic.

Steve Berman of CU School of Medicine
Steve Berman, MD, FAAP, Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the CU Anschutz and Director, Center for Global Health, stands with community nurses at the Center for Human Development in Guatemala.

Several attendees expressed how impressed and inspired they were by the collaboration between AgroAmerica, the supporting hospitals and schools and the Trifinio Center for improving the lives of the children and families of those working in the banana and palm oil plantations AgroAmerica runs. Further, the quality of equipment and capabilities, including the pharmacy, made several attendees excited about how much this clinic facility can offer.

“It is exciting to think of the possibilities we have at Trifinio to improve the health not just of our community but also to create an innovative health model that can be replicated around the world,” said Stephen Daniels, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Pediatrician-in-Chief L. Joseph Butterfield Chair in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

But it was the degree to which the local community members were involved with the direction and planning for the clinic and its programming that struck Jodie Malhotra, PharmD, International Affairs Coordinator and Assistant Professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “I was able to truly witness the community’s support and engagement in the clinic. It was also very clear that the community leaders are very supportive of the clinic,” Dr. Malhotra shared. “We even had the opportunity to accompany the community nurses on a visit with a new mother at her home to see how they work with the mother and baby. Their means of assessing the baby and educating the mother were very inspiring.”

Spacious new lodging facility in Guatemala
The new lodging facility at the Trifino Center for Human Development will house students and medical professionals when they volunteer at the clinic.

Also during the trip, the Colorado contingent met four students from the CU Anschutz Medical Campus who were working in the clinic this summer. It was easy to see the effect that the experience would have not only on their careers, but also their professions. “This clinic provides a life-changing opportunity for health students to benefit from service learning,” said David Goff, MD, PhD, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. “It was clear that we have at least as much to gain as we have to offer in this unique collaboration with the Trifinio community.”

Look for more news in the coming months celebrating the opening of the birthing center – a key step toward improving the area’s population health.

In addition to Drs. Daniels, Malhotra and Goff, attendees included:

  • Edwin Asturias, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at CU Anschutz and Director of Latin American Projects, Center for Global Health
  • Steve Berman, MD, FAAP, Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the CU Anschutz and Director, Center for Global Health
  • Richard Johnston, MD, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz
  • Jerrod Milton, Vice President of Operations, Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Reina Turcios-Ruiz, MD, FIDSA, Director of the Central America Regional Office, Centers for Disease Control

Contributed by the Center for Global Health.