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Compassion in Healing: Nebaj Hospital


Compassionate Care in Nebaj, Guatemala

Compassion is a human quality that is often undervalued in medical settings, yet it is essential for providing the best possible care. Years ago, Dr. Juan Pablo and his wife, Carolina Noriega, had a dream – a hospital that would provide quality healthcare with respect, compassion, and dignity for the community of Nebaj. This dream is now a reality as Hospital Servicios Medicos Vida y Esperanza is currently running and accepting patients, providing healthcare and dental care. At the same time, the new building is being built! Healthcare initiatives include medical consultation, clinical laboratory, care for the bedridden, ultrasound and X-ray services, food assistance for low-income families, education for workers’ children, and activities in the Cristo Salva church.

Agatha’s Story: Compassion in The Face of Grief

Agatha and her husband had been married for almost twenty years when they received the miraculous news that Agatha* was pregnant at the age of forty. They already had an older daughter and were shocked and apprehensive about the news. Nonetheless, they accepted it with joy and enthusiasm and began to prepare for the arrival of their child.

They had a few complications along the way, as they were in the geriatric age group for pregnancy, but they remained positive and hopeful that everything would be alright. Initially diagnosed by a rapid test, a routine checkup by a nurse at eight weeks of pregnancy yielded terrible news. Agatha had vaginal bleeding, and the nurse indicated it could be a miscarriage. Agatha was referred to the National Hospital, but instead, she chose to meet Dr. Juan Pablo at Servicios Medicos Vida y Esperanza, the mission hospital in Nebaj.

Dr. JP’s staff ran the required tests and were grateful to have a good ultrasound machine that could help make the correct diagnosis. Dr. JP gently broke the tragic news to Agatha and confirmed her suspicions. Agatha explained her story and mentioned that she had actually been referred to another hospital. She, however, wanted much more than a cold, clinical diagnosis at this point. She wanted to meet a more empathetic, caring provider who would help her process this moment of grief.

Agatha said, “You and the nurses have been very kind and loving to me because this is a very stressful and very heartbreaking moment in my life. That’s why I wanted to come here to confirm that I was experiencing a miscarriage. I knew I would get much support here.”

Dr. JP’s staff took her to the OR, where a specialist completed the necessary procedures. Agatha was able to go home the same day. Though the heartbreaking news deeply saddened Agatha, she found comfort in their faith. She was surrounded by their loving staff, who supported her, prayed for her, and helped her to process the loss.

A Mission to Care for The Most Vulnerable

Compassionate care can help reduce patients’ physical and emotional suffering, making them feel more relaxed and better able to cope with their condition. Compassion is essential to healthcare at the Nebaj Hospital, as it improves the quality of care and the patient’s experience. By showing compassion, the hospital in Nebaj demonstrated empathy and understanding for Agatha, helping her feel more secure and comfortable. Compassion can also improve communication and trust between patient and provider, resulting in more comprehensive care. Through compassionate care, the hospital can help to reduce the physical and emotional suffering of patients, enabling them to feel more relaxed and better able to cope with their condition. Ultimately, compassion in healthcare can lead to better outcomes for both providers and patients.

How You Can Get Involved

  • Go on a short-term impact trip: Many groups have travelled to Nebaj to volunteer, assist in the construction of the hospital, experience life amongst the local people, and create a general awareness of their living conditions. The goal is to serve and learn with the people – learn about life in Guatemala, the needs of the community, and the opportunities that exist. Ed Kupiery has been to Guatemala 13 times since 2006 to do volunteer work. The most impactful part of these trips is home visits with local families. 
  • Support a special project: Carolina Noriega oversees a home school for her hospital staff’s children so that they may gain a high-quality education. Her solid faith pushes her to serve the patients and community members that connect with her.
  • Fancy a coffee table book: 

    Bob Pauw’s first mission trip to Guatemala changed his life. He continued going every year for the next ten years until the pandemic. These interactions and the opportunity to support the efforts of Dr. Juan Pablo and Carolina changed how he saw healthcare, poverty and community development. His many mission trips inspired him to write a book about his involvement with this project in Nebaj.

    The book Hospitalito – The Little Hospital was just published this year. The sale proceeds of this book will go towards the Nebaj project. Every donation above $100 towards the Nebaj Hospital Project gets a free book. Get your own copy by donating here.

  • Donate to the hospital: As the new hospital is being built, the next phase entails purchasing medical equipment and other construction costs, totalling up to $300,000 CDN. The immediate need is the purchase of an X-ray machine. You can help us reach the goal of $180,000 for this equipment!

Brian travelled to Nebaj with his family last year. He shot a short documentary about the project during his time there. This is a powerful and profoundly moving work highlighting the project’s history and impact on the community of Nebaj. Watch the video on our YouTube channel.

This hospital provides much-needed medical care to the most vulnerable in Nebaj who cannot access it elsewhere. It is run almost entirely on donations from local individuals and businesses and needs your support to continue serving the community of Nebaj.

Your donations will go towards funding the hospital’s operations and helping to ensure that its services remain available to those in need. Any amount, big or small, is greatly appreciated and will go towards helping to save lives.

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