Hospital Ship Plies Turbulent Waters Of Colombia’s Pacific Coast

For hundreds of miles along Colombia’s Pacific coast, with its thick, lush jungle, there are no private hospitals, and medication and medics are rare. And so, the San Raffaele hospital ship, when it arrives, is treated like a ghostly miracle by the poor indigenous and Afro-Caribbean communities that dot this violent region.

Yenny Cardenas, weaving a container as she waits in her hut, which is built on stilts on the riverbank. Its roof thrums under heavy rainfall. Cardenas, an ethnic Wounaan, is waiting around to board a skiff that will rate her across to the dispatch with her baby son, her fifth child.

She’s concerned about his pores and skin which, for months now, has been protected in sores. Cardenas, 44, a trained teacher in close by Balsalito, an indigenous reserve on the banks of the San Juan where it sweeps down from the Andes to the sea. Around the other loan provider is the wharf at Docordo, many Afro-Colombian town lost in the country’s poorest department, Choco-where 50 percent of the population live in extreme poverty nearly, compared to 17 percent nationally.

Dozens of patients have collected around Docordo’s solid wood wharf since dawn. The area has one medical dispensary just, supplying 16,000 people. For that good reason, all optical eye are trained on the ship. Bearing a white cross on its hull, it’s anchored mid-river, as though honoring its neutrality between both of these neighboring communities-indigenous and Afro-Colombian-which do not mix. Another sign-featuring a machine gun with a ‘X’ over it-warns that carrying firearms on board is prohibited.

  • Starry Eyelid Art
  • 1 cup organic natural soap flakes
  • Improved capability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or intensity of diabetes
  • Approach must mix the runway threshold
  • Liquid Glycerin – 1 tbsp

People line up, waiting their turn to be seen by the nurses and doctors. Some have their hands on their stomachs, some are bent over with age, some are young pregnant women with their kids in tow-all wait to tell their woes and receive free treatment. Ana Lucia Lopez, 51, director and co-founder of the Monte Tabor Foundation, which functions this 80-foot (24-meter) medical center on water. On Docordo’s teeming pontoon, Lopez manages the anxious group from behind a college desk on the wharf that doubles as the hospital’s reception area.

For a 12-day mission she has a summary of 2,000 people for appointments and 150 patients for surgery that a forward party of medics screened in a triage procedure fourteen days previously. It’s a mountain of work for the tiny ship with a big heart, but on Colombia’s western coast, there is no alternative.

The dispatch features 25 doctors and nurses, some paid plus some volunteer, including a gynecologist, a dentist, a pediatrician and a psychologist. A staff of seven operates the dispatch itself. Hailing from the interface of Buenaventura, the San Raffaele has been plying the 865 mile (1,300 kilometers) length of Colombia’s Pacific coast throughout the year since 2009, from the Panamanian boundary in the north to Ecuador in the south. Diego Posso, 49, a paramedic expert in trauma and the founding president of Monte Tabor. Posso himself designed the dispatch with help from a naval architect.

All it has ever been is a floating hospital. It’s a risky business, arriving here. The local communities had to work out with several equipped groups to ensure safe passing for the San Raffaele. Gunmen of 1 kind or another have held sway here for decades-from National Liberation Army rebels to narco-trafficking gangs like the feared Gulf Clan-effectively which makes it a war area. Three years on from a landmark serenity agreement with FARC rebels, peace is from being a truth with this coast far, strategic to cocaine-shippers and clandestine platinum miners alike. Local security forces patrolling the river with outboard-powered boats verify frequent firefights, systems floating in the river, wounded local people and displaced households terrorized by assault.

She recalled several wounded taken hurriedly aboard one night time, including a paramilitary guy with his arm dangling off. A couple of months later, in the town up the coast further, someone grabbed her by the make. From dawn until late into the night, small skiffs ferry visitors to and from the riverbank.

Eventually, it’s Cardenas’ turn to climb onto the deck, keeping her child close. Through to the ship, shaded by a plastic material sheet, the waiting room is overflowing. There is no let-up for pediatric surgeon Carlos Melo, 55. He follows surgery with surgery, and not just for children. Melo, a pioneer of invasive stomach surgery known as laparoscopy minimally, who has volunteered on the dispatch for days gone by five years. At the final end of the corridor, in a small pastel-colored room, Maria Isabel Lozano examines Carderas’ baby and diagnoses a epidermis disease. It’s a common medical diagnosis here, where neighborhoods face the polluted waters of the San Juan.