Dr. Francisco Castro’s arrival as part-time medical director of Dorie’s Promise in 2007 initiated a markedly-improved health system. Previously, a pediatrician only came when called. This curative approach did little to prevent illness or the threat of infectious diseases spreading among residents. Soon after Dr. Castro joined the staff, a serious outbreak of infection threatened a majority of the 110 children then living at the home. However, since that time no serious outbreaks of infections have occurred, with maintenance efforts promoting good health for most children. Those who incur sickness or disease recover 97 percent of the time; a network of physicians, laboratories and hospitals assist with remaining, difficult cases.
Health treatment is a concern among Guatemala’s general population, but particularly for those at Dorie’s Promise. Many of the children come from a background of poverty and other deprivation. The most frequent illnesses encountered include bronchitis and rhinitis, upper and lower respiratory viral infections, gastrointestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin problems. Dr. Castro and the nurses who assist him offer personalized medical attention that emphasizes the importance of health education, disease prevention and health rehabilitation strategies.
Dr. Castro bases the medical system on bioethical and Christian beliefs revolving around four key principles: 1) first, protect children, 2) do no harm, 3) look for patient benefit above all else, 4) seek justice by not discriminating, emphasizing equality and finding the best resources to achieve a comprehensive, humanitarian medical solution. “I know there is hope for humanity because of what I see here,” the doctor says. “I see miracles taking place in children’s lives and hundreds of volunteers coming to help, most of them Christians and willing to serve others in tangible ways.”
Future plans for improving children’s health include enhancing their nutritional habits and developmental and learning skills. The home hopes to soon start classes for parents and children’s caregivers while looking at ways to reach more children and families in need. With Guatemala still severely limiting international adoptions, Dorie’s Promise is preparing to attend to a growing population that will need to stay at the home for longer periods of time. If donations to the home increase, Dr. Castro hopes to attain fulltime status.