My daughter, Elizabeth Blasberg, is a facial plastic surgeon. She and a colleague have volunteered to go to Honduras to perform cleft palate surgery and other surgeries for children in need in Honduras. On Wednesday, December 13, 2023, we visited Ruth Paz Foundation Hospital as a possible venue for the doctors to perform these surgeries. We learned that there is a great need for these surgeries as facial plastic surgeons are almost non-existent in Honduras. They welcomed our visit and will help us coordinate this mission.
Ruth Paz Foundation Hospital is in downtown San Pedro Sula not too far from the Hotel Copantl where we were staying. We were met by the hospital coordinator, Marcela Martinez, who is extremely knowledgeable, welcoming and speaks fluent English. The meeting was arranged by Rafael Ugarte who accompanied John, Walt and Rafael’s wife Evelyn on the tour.
We took a lot of photos, and I’ve assembled some of them in an album. Here is the link to the PHOTOS: https://photos.app.goo.gl/pdRNLqU8DH4aUpmP8. Be sure to click on the video as I was able to enter in the operating room all suited up and take pictures. They were performing two operations at once and the operating room was filled with medical professionals. Also, one of the photos is of a directory of all the medical doctors they have on staff with their specialties listed.
We got to see all the facilities of the Hospital from waiting rooms, patient rooms, operating rooms, pre op and post op recovery rooms, supply closets, the pharmacy, the lab and much more. When we finished the tour we met with the medical director, Dr. Juan (Johnny) Craniotis who is a pediatric surgeon with a specialty in colo rectal pediatric surgery. No one else wants to do colo rectal but he loves it and is passionate about what he does. He does other surgeries also.
Dr. Johnny gave us a history of the Ruth Paz Foundation hospital and described the various things they do. He has been with the hospital for many years and saved it from closing after the government didn’t follow through on their promise to help them financially. He made the decision to take in paying adults to keep them financially afloat.
They are visited regularly by various medical missions that come to operate on patients where they don’t have the resources or doctors. They have not had a plastic surgeon on staff until very recently when they hired a very “green” Dr. They were delighted that our doctors are willing to come, and they fervently want their new Dr. to learn from them as he has very little experience.
We learned that it takes about 40 days to get missionary doctors approved to perform surgeries in Honduras. As Ruth Paz is very familiar with the application process at the Ministry of Health, they will make the request. What remains is for us to coordinate a time that is mutually convenient for this mission to take place and then follow up with the applications. We also learned that it will not cost us much to do these surgeries at this hospital as they are very well equipped. Nevertheless, we will want to raise money for the travel and hotel accommodations for the doctors when they go to Honduras.