Posted by: calloftheandes | November 23, 2015

Begun 60 Years Ago, Hospital Continues to Instruct Ecuadorian Health Professionals

by R. Kurtenbach


Roy Ringenberg

Roy Ringenberg

Standing before a crowded Quito auditorium to celebrate a hospital’s founding, Dr. Roy Ringenberg was not only a physician—a medical internist and instructor; he was also a patient.

His care was handled by those who had invited him to Ecuador for the 60th anniversary of Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ). Upon arrival, Ringenberg was struck by a case of cellulitis—a common, potentially serious skin infection.

On Monday, Oct. 12, a sesión solemne (service of remembrance) at the Municipal Building in downtown Quito’s central plaza, culminated a series of anniversary activities.

Hospital staff had earlier held a worship service to give thanks to God. They had also released helium balloons attached to small prayer notes. “We ask, Lord,” said one HVQ department’s note, “that You continue blessing as You have these 60 years, giving us strong hearts to finish the work that is Your work and that Your grace and mercy accompany us in the years ahead.”

The hospital, inaugurated in 1955 after fervent fundraising on a Philadelphia radio program, has been a facility “dedicated to God’s glory and the service of Ecuador.”

The mission’s healthcare work began as something smaller in 1946 when Reach Beyond cofounders Clarence Jones and Reuben Larson approached Dr. Paul Roberts—then a medical school student—about a family clinic for their staff and a facility to offer basic care to the indigenous.

In a few years, the Albergue y Dispensario Indígena (Indigenous Hostel and Dispensary) was inaugurated on April 28, 1950. In practice, it didn’t serve as an overnight hostel, but as an outpatient clinic, according to Reach Beyond’s Roger Reimer, who once directed the mission’s healthcare in Latin America.

But Roberts had a much bigger dream than just a clinic for missionaries or a small Indian hostel clinic. He envisioned a large, modern hospital where all Ecuadorians would receive the best medical care possible, regardless of their ability to pay. He also envisioned a teaching hospital where Ecuadorian doctors and nurses would be trained and a place where God’s love would be shown to everyone who entered its doors.

In 1952 Roberts and George Palmer began raising money to build a hospital. The project was funded largely by listeners to Palmer’s “Morning Cheer” program broadcast in Philadelphia. Others also gave, and the hospital officially opened as Rimmer Memorial Hospital on Oct. 12, 1955. It is now commonly referred to as Hospital Vozandes-Quito. “Vozandes” is Spanish for “Voice of the Andes,” named after the international shortwave radio station that was founded in Quito by Jones and Larson in 1931.

Different speakers—both in person and via prerecorded videos—recounted HVQ’s decades in Ecuador. The vice minister of the nation’s Health Ministry, Dr. Marisol Ruilova, a graduate of the hospital’s medical education programs, offered words of congratulations as did Marco Ponce, a delegate of Quito Mayor Mauricio Rodas.ringenberg2

When longtime laboratory physician Dr. Jeanette Zurita took the podium, she presented findings from research on bacteria strains. She later offered people 15 Años Vigilando el Invisible (15 Years Monitoring the Invisible), published by her Ecuador-based laboratory and Reach Beyond.

The room was alive with excitement about the institution’s achievements and its influence, both medical and spiritual, in Ecuadorian society and elsewhere. But as Ringenberg addressed the crowd, his talk tended toward a transparent look at not always getting it right and of interdependence among those striving for a common goal. Years earlier he had, in helping to establish HVQ as a teaching hospital, missed a critical deadline for filing applications with Ecuador’s Ministry of Health.

His Ecuadorian colleagues closed ranks in support of him, smoothing things out for HVQ to launch the hospital’s family practice residency program in 1986. Ringenberg was visibly moved to recall what was for him a salient episode illustrating that “this is the difference at Hospital Vozandes; we’re like a family.”

From 1985 until 2011 in Quito, he had treated patients, served for a time as HVQ’s medical director, and mentored—both in medicine and in studying the Bible—young people on the cusp of launching their medical careers. It was the fulfillment of a dream he had held since age 12.ringenberg3

Some from the HVQ “family” were recognized for longtime service. Dr. Luis Granja, for example, received recognition as a general surgeon for 47 years, and Dr. Ramiro Carrillo received plaudits for his 41 years as a hospital ophthalmologist. Dr. Hugo Velasco has performed neurosurgery for 31 years and was duly recognized as well.

Others who poured forward as their names were called out to receive plaques of appreciation from Dan Shedd, vice president/executive director of Reach Beyond’s Latin America Region. This included the following medical doctors who had served at the hospital for at least 25 years: Néstor Amaguayo, Victor Falconí, César Irigoyen, Luis Martínez, Jaime Morán, Fernando Naranjo, Estuardo Novoa, Jaime Ochoa, Enrique Ordoñez, Hugo Pazmiño, Susana Rodríguez, Juan Roldán, Diego Samaniego, Juan Sghirla and Ruperto Suárez.

Reach Beyond announced in mid-2013 that it would sell the 76-bed hospital, only to see the deal fall through a year later.

The evening event also saw special recognitions awarded to Reach Beyond retirees Ruth Baxter (a nurse who chatted to the crowd via video) and Dr. Wally Swanson along with Ecuadorians Dr. Eduardo Noboa and Pastor Gustavo Molina.

Molina began ministering to hospital staff and patients as a chaplain in 1958 just three years after the facility was opened in 1955.

Left to right are Dr. Oswaldo Vasconez, medical director; Ximena Pacheco,regional comptroller; Gustavo Molina, longtime chaplain; and Gary Gardeen, former hospital administrator

Left to right are Dr. Oswaldo Vasconez, Ximena Pacheco, Gustavo Molina and Gary Gardeen


  1. […] to Reach Beyond missionary Gary Gardeen. (Reach Beyond is the parent organization to HVQ, which first began tending to patient needs in October 1955.) Gardeen and his wife, Mary, returned to Ecuador and HVQ upon Gary’s retirement as executive […]

  2. […] as Judd was working as a construction supervisor during Reach Beyond’s 1987-1996 expansion of Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ), Project Life. Later on in Ecuador, Judd also worked independently, with construction contracts […]

  3. […] teams of physicians and other medical staff to the quake zone. They traveled from the ministry’s Vozandes Hospital in Quito to handle trauma cases and urgent needs, helping meet the immediate physical needs of the […]

  4. […] base an opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with the Ecuadorian medical community. With Reach Beyond’s Dr. Roy Ringenberg interpreting into Spanish, a few guests—including Fidel— shared testimonies of living a […]

  5. […] We just had a visit from the vice-minister of Health (the job formerly held by Marisol Ruilova, who is now in charge of clinical care at Hospital Vozandes Quito.) [Dr. Ruilova is a graduate of the hospital’s medical education programs.] […]

  6. […] want to thank again Hospital Vozandes Quito [HVQ] and HCJB for sending its advance team of doctors,” wrote Pérez in a Facebook posting. […]

  7. […] this was the malady affecting one of Zurita’s fellow speakers at the HVQ anniversary event, Reach Beyond’s Dr. Roy Ringenberg, during his visit to Ecuador. In his speech, he praised his caregivers, some of the same colleagues […]

  8. […] shared the experience with staff members observing the 60th anniversary of Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ). Anxiously, the woman had waited as emergency room doctors treated her 19-year-old daughter […]

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