Paradise Fine Tuned - Expats Improve Medical Care in Los Barriles
Story & photos by Gary Graham of BajaFly.com
It’s not an uncommon story. For one reason or another, an individual finds themselves settled in a land that fulfills their idea of paradise. Charlene D. Wenger is such a person.
When she first arrived in Los Barriles in the late 90’s, she fell in love with the area and was sure that she had found the perfect place to live. It wasn’t long before she realized the even paradise could be improved with a bit of fine tuning.
A registered nurse by profession, Char began volunteering as an assistant to a local physician in early 2000. She wanted to make a difference in the community. Little did she know where that simple act of volunteering would take her!
In 2002, a thirty-four old worker about to begin painting her house collapsed and required resuscitation. There wasn’t even a tank of oxygen available. Subsequently the worker died as a result of a stroke from hypertension which had not been properly diagnosed. It was apparent that essential equipment and medical supplies were woefully lacking.
Soon the wheels were put in motion to form a non-profit organization to service the East Cape area. Char helped guide the paperwork through the labyrinth of Mexican Law. After months of hard work and frustration, THE EAST CAPE COMMUNITY URGENT CARE CLINIC, AC became a reality.
Donations were solicited to begin developing a Community Clinic, complete with a full bilingual physician, registered nurse and support staff. After a careful cost analysis of the property, building, equipment and staffing, it became clear that the economic requirements were much greater than could be supported by local donations.
During the next several years, physicians were interviewed and hospitals and clinics toured in search of the ideal formula that would allow the East Cape community to have the nonprofit and medical care it needed. Meanwhile the donations collected were used to treat the EC community children and elderly. CPR classes and Immunizations clinics were provided. To augment the donations, T-shirts were designed and sold throughout the community to raise additional monies.
In November of 2005, Char visited the Ameri-Med Hospital in Cabo San Lucas. The Medical Director and CEO listened intently as Char outlined her dream of a full service medical facility for the East Cape area.
The director agreed that Ameri-Med could provide the equipment needed as well as the support staff required to ensure the high standard of medical care needed for the community. They were quite willing to cooperate with the non-profit organization that had been set up for the East Cape area, which would allow the organization to provide medical services at a lower cost to the lower income families who were lacking in health benefits.
Once the agreement was reached, the work began: The staff had to be hired, equipment and medical supplies needed to be ordered, and the building had to be constructed. Dr. Marcial Cevallos, who had worked at the local IMSS clinic, agreed to relocate along with Nurse, Luis Villaviencincio. During the construction the physician and nurse both trained in the AmeriMed Hospital in Cabo San Lucas.
In March of 2006, the doors were finally opened to the brand, spanking-new clinic housing. AmeriMed provided the most comprehensive medical care ever offered in the area including a full-time, on-call physician along with specialists’ support, laboratory, X-ray and an affordable pharmacy. Also, Primary/ Urgent Care - 24/7, and an ambulance providing emergency medical transport within the community was now available. Emergency services are available for anything from an imbedded fishhook to severe medical conditions onsite, and those with more serious needs can be diagnosed and transported immediately to the hospital in Los Cabos.
Ameri-Med has been successful in acquiring Insurance and Medicare coverage for many U.S. citizens.
A year and a half later, Ameri-Med continues to receive letters from satisfied patients containing praise and gratitude for individual medical issues that the Ameri-Med staff diagnosed, treated and resolved in a professional and timely manner.
Char still continues to tweak the non-profit funds which provide individuals or families with support and medical assistance for urgent situations, as well as assistance for members of the community in the event of a major catastrophe, i.e., hurricanes, fire and other disasters. Proceeds from the sale of T-shirts cover the costs of an office visit, medication or lab work for many local residents who have limited funds. “It brings joy to my heart to help those in need.” Char states.
Her fine tuning goes on and her responsibilities have grown. Char continues in her role as acting Administrator for the Ameri-Med Clinic Los Barriles, EAST CAPE COMMUNITY URGENT CARE CLINIC AC and Operadora De Servicio De Emergencia Ambulance Company, as well as stepping in when any need arises where she can be of help. Her efforts have significantly raised the level of medical coverage within her community.
12.02.07 BPE I want to thank the very professional and dedicated Dr. and the receptionist at the Amerimed Clinic in Los Barilles. I was so impressed by the very thorough exam and medication dispensed - the treatment and prices are better than I can get at home. The visit during Thanksgiving week helped make the rest of our trip wonderful. I would highly recommend the clinic to everyone needing medical assistance. Thank-you so much! Cindy Obermeyer - Idaho.
Publisher's Note: The BajaInsider provides free publicity for charitable events which support causes to which the publishers are sympathetic. We do not investigate the validity of our contributing charities and encourage our readers to check out any institution before making significant contributions. We also wish great success to all charities with sincere motivation.
About the Author
Gary Graham is a well known outdoor writer and fly fishing guru. Check out Gary's site BajaFly.com