Peru had, at one point, the world’s highest COVID-19 death rate per capita. The pandemic crisis fueled an unprecedented need for oxygen in the mountainous country where hospitals do not have access to their own oxygen generators and instead depend on external sources.
Clínica Americana de Juliaca and Clínica Adventista Ana Stahl in Iquitos were initially two of those dependent hospitals, but that is no longer the case. Through contributions from AdventHealth, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Peru, the Rotary Foundation, and other donors, Clínica Americana opened its oxygen plant in spring 2021, and Clínica Adventista Ana Stahl inaugurated its new plant in October 2021.
“Oxygen plants represent security and trust for a health institution, its staff, and its community. It means knowing we can count on a vital source and that we can effectively serve the community as well,” Cesar Valera, finance director of Clínica Adventista Ana Stahl, said. “We have social and community projects that we actively carry out with local governments, and this plant will help us continue the healing ministry of Jesus as we carry out those projects.”
Before installing their plants, staff from Clínica Americana and Clínica Adventista Ana Stahl had to wait in lines at private plants and pay for oxygen by the tankful at prices 10 times the regular cost due to the overwhelming demand. This created a significant challenge for the rural hospitals, particularly the hard-hit Ana Stahl campus, whose doors shut for 30 days because of widespread infection and staffing shortages.
“When Clínica Adventista Ana Stahl closed, people were banging on the gates and climbing over walls in a desperate attempt to get medical attention. Several staff members were gravely ill and were admitted to the ICU and placed on ventilators,” Greg Hodgson, director of Global Health Initiatives at Centura Health, a regional partnership of AdventHealth, said. “Now they have a secure supply of oxygen and are ready to face the challenges ahead. This oxygen plant is a sign of life.”
The two oxygen plants cost about US$500,000 in total and will help the hospitals respond to any future COVID-19 waves and any other respiratory illnesses that may occur.
“The pandemic is far from over. COVID-19 is still devastating communities across the world, and ADRA is committed to providing humanitarian assistance in Peru and globally,” Alex Balint, director of corporate and social partnerships for ADRA, said. “ADRA is grateful for its alliance with AdventHealth and other trusted partners to support clinics and hospitals around the world with critical equipment such as the oxygen plants that will help save more lives in Peru.
“ADRA will continue its efforts to mobilize protective gear and essential medical supplies to protect the community and help fight this pandemic,” Balint added.
AdventHealth Global Missions is working with ADRA India to put up oxygen plants in India and is also raising funds for one at Haiti Adventist Hospital.