Posted by: calloftheandes | July 21, 2011

Medical Team from Ecuador Treats Cholera Patients in Haiti

Balloons and smiles were part of nurse Clara Chuma's care of Haitian infants. She also worked in the women's and men's wards at the Samaritan's Purse Cholera Treatment Center

The seven members of the second medical team from Ecuador this year are treating patients at a cholera treatment center in Cité Soleil, Haiti, after their arrival Tuesday, July 5. This is the eighth HCJB Global Hands team to travel to Haiti from Ecuador since a devastating earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010.

The healthcare workers are physicians and nurses from a Quito hospital and a clinic operated by HCJB Global Hands, helping in Haiti for two weeks.

The latest medical team to arrive in Haiti is being led by Dr. Richard Douce, an infectious diseases specialist who observed that “even though cholera is a tragedy it is actually gratifying to treat cholera patients. Most of the people that are going with us have worked in healthcare most of their professional lives and we rarely see such immediate results that we do with cholera.”

One of the nurses is Clara Chuma who works in the intensive care unit. Another, Ruth Telenchana, is bilingual in Spanish and French. In earlier short-term, cross-cultural work, she traveled to the Republic of Congo to assist in hospital administration at Pioneer Christian Hospital in Impfondo. A third nurse, Juanita Buñay, works at a satellite clinic associated with Hospital Vozandes-Quito. “Their main function will be to start IVs,” Douce said.

All three nurses have been involved in Corrientes since it was launched by HCJB Global and other partners in late 2009. Corrientes is a coalition that is working to train Latin Americans to serve as bi-vocational Christian workers throughout the world.

Along with Douce, family practice physicians Paulyna Orellana and Ana Villacrés are working at Cité Soleil. Orellana has graduated from two residency programs in surgery and family practice, and Villacrés is now in her second year in the family practice residency at Hospital Vozandes-Quito. The team is accompanied by Ralph Kurtenbach who is handling logistics and communications. The cholera treatment center is operated by Samaritan’s Purse (SP).

HCJB Global Hands team. Pictured are (back l to r) Juanita Buñay, Ruth Telenchana, Clara Chuma, Dr. Ana Villacrés, Dr. Paulyna Orellana. Front left: Dr. Richard Douce. Front right: Ralph Kurtenbach

“We try to replace whatever amount of water and electrolytes the patients lose because of diarrhea,” Douce added. A medical team headed by Dr. Mark Nelson in June administered 108 liters of IV fluids to a single patient before he recovered.

“I was involved in the cholera epidemic we had here (in Ecuador) in 1993, and found that while cholera is a tragedy, I very much enjoy saving lives,” Douce related. “People arrive half dead and they respond fairly rapidly to treatment.”

“The mortality rate [of cholera patients who come to facilities operated by] Samaritan’s Purse is less than 0.7 percent, so the mortality is probably lower than in other treatment centers. They’re very well organized,” said Douce. Until the 21st century, cholera epidemics often had a mortality rate of about 50 percent.

“Now that we understand the pathophysiology involved, the mortality of cholera epidemics around the world has fallen to less than 1 percent,” he added. “It’s a very treatable disease.” A dose of antibiotics is administered against the cholera bacteria, with much of the rest of treatment consisting of rehydration.

Much of the patients’ spiritual care is left with SP chaplains. “We’re just going to be servants helping save their lives and hope that Samaritan’s Purse and the Holy Spirit work in the people’s lives,” Douce said. “But in the process we’ll be doing Christian fellowship every day. In my previous experience, it is an opportunity to help us (team members) to grow spiritually.”

During their missions career in Ecuador, Douce and his wife, Marian, have also served short-term at a missions hospital in Malawi, helping with HIV/AIDS patients.


  1. […] 2015 this writer reviewed and offered suggestions to an early draft of God Knows What I’m Doing Here at the […]

  2. […] like adolescent issues, lent themselves quite well to moving into more spiritual topics,” said Clara Chuma, an intensive care unit nurse at HVQ. She was impressed by speakers’ efforts to incorporate Scripture and biblical principles […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: