Bakersfield West Rotary Club Facilitates Donation of Ambulance to Hospital in Guatemala.
The Hall Ambulance Company of Bakersfield has generously donated an ambulance as part of an international service project organized by the Bakersfield West Rotary Club. The Bakersfield West Club will ship the ambulance to Guatemala for use by a small hospital located in the highland community of Santiago Atitlán in the Sololá Province of Guatemala. Bakersfield West Rotary is partnering with the Guatemala City West Rotary Club, who identified the hospital’s need for the ambulance.
The Story:

Hospital Atitlán is a small non-government, non-profit hospital serving approximately 75,000 Mayans that live on the southern shore of Lake Atitlán. The hospital, originally built in the 1960’s, has endured many hardships over the years, including civil war in the 1970’s and a cholera epidemic in the 1990’s, which completely closed the facility for twelve years. The local residents suffered greatly as a result of the hospital’s closing. In 2003 a group of local citizens spearheaded an effort to renovate the older buildings and reopen the hospital. The facility was reopened in April of 2005, only to be nearly destroyed by a tropical storm that hit Guatemala in October of the same year. In order to serve the needs of the community, the hospital continued to operate in a temporary location, averaging almost 600 visits per month. It was determined that rebuilding the hospital in the same location was not a long term solution, based on recommendations from seismologists, volcanologists and hydrologists. Through donations a more viable plot of land was acquired on the north side of the community and with help from local and international humanitarian organizations, including Rotary, the hospital was completely rebuilt.

Today the hospital provides a full range of preventative and clinical health services with an emphasis on serving women and children. Many patients cannot afford care and the hospital relies on donations to maintain staffing. The facility has the only 24/7 emergency services within a two hour radius. An ambulance has been on their wish list for some time and thanks to the generous donation from Hall Ambulance, the Bakersfield West Rotary and the Guatemala West Rotary Clubs are proud to make this happen.
This article was presented in The Bakersfield Californian and written by Randy Merryman, International Service Chair of Bakersfield West Rotary