More than 2,300 people in the city of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, received medical services thanks to a joint initiative between the Adventist hospital, the West Venezuela Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Smiles for Jesus Foundation (FUNDASONJE), an Adventist lay organization in the country.
The recent three-day event offered medical consultations to 2,346 patients in need of assistance from throughout the region. The initiative provided 104 minor surgeries and treatment in 15 medical specialties, including ophthalmology, ambulatory care, dentistry, and more.
“We are very thankful to have partnered with the Smiles for Jesus Foundation once again to assist so many of our members in vulnerable and needy circumstances,” Orlando Ramírez, president of the West Venezuela Union and chair of the Venezuela Adventist Hospital board, said. Since 2017, the church has been partnering with the Adventist lay foundation to assist communities in need across west Venezuela while promoting the healthy lifestyle the church promotes, Ramírez said.
Luis Betancourt, coordinator of social services for FUNDASONJE overseeing the project, said that in the past, dozens of interventions have been conducted to benefit the population in general, but this was an opportunity to reach the church members in the area. “We surveyed the needs among the church members who needed surgical attention previous to scheduling the services,” he said.
“In Venezuela, there’s difficulty for medical services to be made available in public hospitals,” Ramirez explained. “It takes time. There are long waiting lists.” The medical consultations and surgeries met a real need, he added.
The initiative saw the hospital’s surgeon, 30 health professionals from across the country, and dozens of volunteers assisting in the three-day initiative coined as “Living Our Hope,” in Barquisimeto, where the Venezuela Adventist Hospital is located.
“This is the first such large intervention that the hospital has engaged in for its strategy to fulfill its mission to become the health center for all members,” Eglee Alaste, a surgeon specializing in family medicine and medical director of Venezuela Adventist Hospital, said. “We are committed to reflecting who God is, in serving and offering the best for His children and the brethren.”
The hospital followed up with post-operative services free of charge after the initiative concluded.
The joint venture included the collaboration of the West Central Venezuela Conference, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Venezuela, and the Inter-American Division of the Adventist Church.
It was important to highlight to church members that the hospital is theirs too, Ramirez said. “The situation in Venezuela over time had created a sort of distancing and great difficulty in being able to serve people who did not have funds, to reach the poorest, and that had turned into something very complex and difficult to reach on behalf of the hospital.” With 50 percent of the resources provided for the initiative coming from FUNDASONJE, “we were able to partner as a church and accomplish such a beautiful initiative in Barquisimeto,” he said.