For more than a decade, Salud y Paz has provided affordable surgeries for patients through our Surgery program. During one of our surgery weeks, an American surgeon offered an unexpected idea: Salud y Paz should consider adding a third operating room. Three operating rooms would mean teams could bring a third surgeon and see 30% more patients. For teams with two surgeons, a third operating room will enable surgeons to continue operating in the new room while another room is being sterilized and reset, greatly reducing turnover time.
The Salud y Paz Surgery program provides life-changing surgery for hundreds of patients every year. But every team turns away patients because there isn’t enough room in the schedule. Some patients receive surgery in makeshift operating rooms set up in our dental or doctor’s office, a space that’s safe for the patient but difficult for the surgeons. The Surgery program is continuously growing – beyond the capacity of our physical structure.
The idea of adding a third operating room sprouted many ideas of how to remodel the current clinic, but each plan forced the elimination of vital areas of the clinic – supply room … lab … patient bathroom. None of the plans laid out were going to work. So we hired a local architect to help us make a plan.
Out of this planning came the Regional Surgery Center project, a three-phase construction project that consists of creating a new home for our caretaker/guardian and his family, a new clinic, and a surgery center complete with three operating rooms.
The new clinic will have space for 3 exams room, an increase from our current clinic which only has one. It will also have an additional dental space to accommodate visiting dentists and students. New patient bathrooms will be located next to our expanded lab. In addition, plans include a centrally located pharmacy, patient waiting space, offices, multipurpose room, and a new kitchen. Housing the surgery center in a separate building will allow us to keep the clinic open regular hours, even when surgery teams are serving in Camanchaj.
In addition to a third operating room, the surgery center will include space dedicated for autoclaves, additional storage space, separate areas for pre- and post-op, more bathrooms for patients and staff, patient showers, and two private offices for patient consultations. For our staff and volunteers, there will be a lounge, shower, and bunk beds for overnight medical personnel.
The project will take several years to complete and is dependent on funding and manpower. Construction is completed by volunteer mission teams, our Guatemalan foreman, and a small team of Guatemalan workers. Currently, teams are working on the first phase of the project, constructing a new house for our guardian.