Tess Unlimited is currently facing a number of problems that hinder us from progressing to a solid and sustainable organisation. Due to the great awareness of our work, we are currently dealing with a growing waiting list of patients (about 500 patients per year). With this continuing pace, we will have more patients on the waiting list in the current system. Unfortunately, there is insufficient availability at local hospitals to provide surgery for all of these patients and we depend on facilities in remote areas. Something that is logistically very complicated if you take into account the transport and accommodation that we have to arrange for both patients and medical staff. Also, the standard of hygiene and quality in these hospitals is often below acceptable criteria. This, combined with the high cost of using these facilities, meant that we started building our own hospital in March 2019. An independent clinic devoted entirely to the treatment of cleft lip and palate in Guatemala.
Our goal with this hospital is to yearly offer free cleft lip and palate surgery to over 400 Guatemalan children. We do this by organizing a medical mission at least 12 times a year, each of which lasts 2 weeks (including pre- and postoperative care). We also want to train local surgeons in this hospital to perform cleft lip and palate operations, so that we will no longer be dependent on foreign teams in the future. In the weeks when no surgeries are planned, the space can be used by local dentists to provide dental care to the patients who need it.
When the clinic is completed and running well, we are planning to buy/build a patient’s home. If we have this in our possession as well, the costs for housing patients and their parents will decrease considerably.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Despite the lockdown in Guatemala, the construction of the clinic has fortunately not been stopped. The ground floor is almost finished, two wards have been painted and we have started designing the pharmacy. As soon as the first floor is done, we can continue painting and furnishing there. We cannot yet say with certainty when the clinic will open, as it will depend on how the virus develops here in Guatemala and how it impacts our medical protocols and licenses. For more current information about COVID-19 and Tess Unlimited, please visit our Facebookpage or sign up for our newsletter (on the bottom of the homepage).