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Jessica Sandoval, a young 27-year woman, was 7 months pregnant with her third child when she began to experience symptoms of premature labor. With hesitation, she went to the primary health center fearing that the doctors there would send her to Victoria and she could lose her baby on the way. However, they immediately hospitalized her at the AmeriCares Hospital just yards away. Her doctors quickly stopped her bleeding and prevented a dangerous, premature delivery. Jessica stayed at the hospital for five days and recounted the following about her experience:
“I’m comfortable here, well cared for, and I feel that the doctors are taking precautions so that my baby is healthy. In this winter, one would not think that the hospital is warm, but once inside I felt comfortable and warm, and in the company of other grateful mothers in my same situation. This hospital is a blessing for Angol. I would have had to go to Victoria for medical treatment. I would have had to be away from my family, my children, and I didn’t want to go. But I couldn’t rest at home and I was afraid that I would lose my baby… I decided to stay at this hospital after realizing that it had everything a hospital should have. I, like so many of the mothers here, am grateful that we can stay in our own town with our families by our sides. I am truly thankful.”
The AmeriCares field hospital in Angol, Chile serves as the town’s primary maternal and infant health facility and treats patients with acute and emergency medical needs. Centrally located just blocks away from the destroyed 120-bed government hospital and connected to the town’s primary health center, it is accessible to Angol’s population of 55,000. Immediately following the 8.0 earthquake in February, patients requiring hospitalization or sophisticated medical treatment were forced to make a two hour journey on damaged roads to a neighboring hospital in Victoria, a journey which compromised patients with delicate medical conditions.
Today, the AmeriCares field hospital is fully operational and at capacity with 50 patients. Staffed by MOH medical staff, and equipped with machines donated by AmeriCares and GE or salvaged from the ruins of the previous hospital, it provides quality healthcare services for a town still recovering from the aftermath of a devastating disaster.