Clinica Esperanza News, Sundae By the Sea Auction

On Sunday, August 21, Peggy’s Clinic holds its Fifth Annual Sundae By The Sea , with auction items available to check out here.

Don’t miss it!!

Event Details:
August 21st 2011, 1.00pm to 5.00pm
Gumbalimba Park

Live Entertainment
$30 advance purchase, $35 at the door
Tickets sold at: Cool Beans Coffee Shop (West Bay), Waves of Art (West End), Clinica Esperanza (Sandy Bay), Genesis Pharmacy (Coxen Hole) and Ace Hardware (French Harbour).
Includes food, drink and entertainment.

From the Clinic itself: “Esperanza’s one-and-only annual fundraiser is here! With your help, this will be another successful event for the clinic.

The need is clear: We operate Clinica Esperanza at a cost of just $10 per patient, but we only charge patients about $4. No one is ever turned away for lack of money. With the opening of the new pediatric inpatient and birthing center, our future costs will be greater.

This year, an online auction will make it possible for friends off-Island who are not able to attend to show their support by bidding. Wherever you are, go to: http://www.roatanauctions.com to bid on many wonderful items donated by many of our supporters both on and off Roatan.

Here’s your chance to go down deep in the Idabel Submarine; stay for a week at several of Roatan’s best accommodations, including Infinity Bay and the Mayan Princess; and enjoy dinners at some of the best eateries on Roatan like Bite on the Beach, Beso’s, and Tong’s. There are a host of many, many other fantastic items, so go check them out and bid as generously as you can.”

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Sandy Bay Pirates Beat Gravel Bay’s Kool to Face The Giants

Seven-run ninth inning sends Pirates soaring to victory

BY JEFF STRATTON

A premature celebration

The Kool baseball field in Gravel Bay resembles a grassy knoll, an un-gentle slope, plus one of those cow pastures that’s been over-run by groundhogs. That said, the location — tucked in a gorgeous, palm-lined valley down the Steel Pan Alley road — isn’t without its charm.

But on this field, balls take bounces that aren’t just weird or difficult to field — they seem to defy the laws of physics. Some ground balls just stop, as if caught in a sand trap.

That’s a factor to take into account when playing here, and for Pirates general manager Dave Elmore, it makes it harder for his team, whose home is the less-than-perfect Sandy Bay field. For a master strategist like Elmore, it makes the game much tougher when the fields’s as much a factor as the players or umpires.

But on Sunday afternoon, August 7, it didn’t matter.

Safe!

It was back-and-forth until about the fifth inning, when Kool was up by a couple runs and their boisterous cheering section smelled blood. Every Kool homer was greeted with air-horn blasts, high-fives, blasts from the DJ and screams of delight.

By inning six, Kool took the lead and the Pirates started to unravel. Flustered, they looked ready to fall apart. Then they got their game back, only to promptly lose it again. Their bullpen was silent as another Kool homer gave them a 10-8 lead.

“Yeah,” said one spectator on the scant Pirates-fan side of the field. “Make it interesting.” It was the bottom of the 8th inning, and Kool fans were howling, taunting, heckling, certain of the imminent death of their prey (after all, Kool are the only team all year to beat the Sandy Bay Giants).

Pirates coach and scorekeeper Mark Flanagan said he was feeling “a little tense” about the situation. It was the last inning of the last playoff game between the Pirates and Kool. But Pirates pitcher Cuny Miller, with the bases loaded, struck out the last batter to prevent further carnage.

Then it was the Pirates’ last stand. First a triple from Ross Connor. Then a base hit from Cuny. Game tied. The Pirates let loose and the Kool bench quieted right down. This was the game of the year. This was a contest no one, baseball fan or not, could walk away from.

Then, with only one out separating the Pirates from their last defeat of the year, they rallied for five more runs. “Pile it on!” came shouts from the Pirates’ bench. The entire mood of the afternoon had changed. The Pirates players were like inflated helium balloons, ready to pop or float away. Jittery with nervous energy, one said, “Man, I’m getting drunk tonight!”

“Look at those guys,” said Flanagan, nodding at the Kool outfielders, who were practically crumpled into balls of fear. “They’re dejected. The wind’s out of their sails! They’re gassed out!”

And they were. Cowrie-necklaced Cuny, beyond pumped, shut down Kool quickly. With the bases loaded, no less. With one oddly-hopping bounce into a leather glove, the final anti-climactic out prompted screams and hugs from the Pirates. “Good!” was all Elmore said when asked how he felt.

Jubilant Pirates on the Kool field

The Kool players walked slowly home, alone, beyond defeated. Not used to losing on their own field, and after watching a seven-run ninth-inning rally from the Pirates, their season sadly  finished as the sun set over a ridge on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. The air-horn was silent. The DJ shut down his stuff and packed it up.

The taunting Kool fans didn’t have much to say now.

But the Pirates’ celebration could be short-lived: They now face a best-of-seven matchup with the Giants, the island’s strongest team (I think they’re something like 26-1) and against whom they haven’t had much success.

The Sandy Bay ball field will be the place to be next few weekends, Roatanians.

Serious Taxi Accident in Sandy Bay

Not sure of the circumstances. On the New Times site (which will be live soon, I swear!) I promised a blog with a photo called “Taxi of the Week” — in fun. This didn’t look like fun at all. In fact, the ambulance with sirens on racing to the scene and the injured people (at least one of whom was treated at Clinica Esperanza) makes this decidedly not a taxi driver doing something nutty worth poking fun at — this was serious.

The accident was across the road from Melvin’s house in Sandy Bay, just after the turn-off to the beach. The taxi was apparently heading east when it left the road and landed against the base of the wooden house near the old Sandy Bay sign.

Here is a better pic, courtesy of Ashley Harrell, a friend and colleague who is on Roatan taking Spanish lessons so she can go work for the Tico Times in Costa Rica. How cool is that?

Welsh Support Team Helps SOL in Sandy Bay

Outlook Expeditions Hooks Up With SOL Foundation for Good Deeds in Sandy Bay

BY JEFF STRATTON

Monday, August 1, a group of Welshmen and Welshwomen got their hands dirty in Sandy Bay.

Volunteers from Outlook Expeditions worked on a gorgeous mural near the AKR road by the beach, transforming a cinderblock wall into a colorful pastiche of images made from thrown-away bottle caps (which our island has no shortage of, btw). Very cool to see discarded trash turned into art.

Outlook Expeditions, which sends students from Wales all over the world to learn from and help others, is in Honduras to work and play.

Today they were working, helping Dave Elmore from SOL create a giant mural that he estimates will take a year to finish. The work is painstaking, and it’s pretty rough there working with cement in the hot sun, but it was great to see a community project take shape.

Outlook takes Welsh students all over the world, teaching them environmental awareness and responsible travel ethics. Not bad things to be down with on Roatan.

Up near the road, by the basketball courts, SOL member Mark Flanagan was working with other (some quite sunburnt) O/E volunteers constructing a recycling bin for plastic bottles and cans.

The bottles are filled with sand and used, essentially, as bricks — making the bottles a building material instead of part of a landfill. When finished, it will function as a collection/sorting point: bottles in good shape will be used to build walls (and maybe, eventually, homes) and cans will be separated and sold.

Pretty cool idea: using trash to build stuff and beautify the community.

New Sandy Bay Restaurant: TAKO Bistro Lounge and Sushi Bar

Hey, there’s a new Japanese place in the Coral Stone Center. Second floor. Sandy Bay now has sushi!

This Friday, TAKO throws a grand opening celebration with a big cocktail party at 7 p.m. The place soft-launched about a week ago. Owner Josue Bueso describes his fusion menu as “French/Japanese with an island twist.”

Bueso studied at the international French school le Institut Paul Bocuse. He’s open for lunch and dinner and his menu’s got sashimi (salmon, tuna, octopus, shrimp, tilapia, etc); a big selection of rolls including the isleño which includes shrimp and fried plantain and a kokonatsu roll with crab, cream cheese, plantain, and roasted coconut.

Urumaki (inside-out) rolls include a California roll, salmon skin, and spicy tuna.

For more information, contact TAKO at takorestaurant@gmail.com or 3382-2282.

Container Opened — Hospital and Clinic Getting What They Need

Next Step: The License for the Pediatric In-Patient Center

BY JEFF STRATTON

On Tuesday morning, around 10:30 a.m., we spotted Nurse Peggy and mayor Julio Galindo outside the shipping container full of equipment and supplies donated by the Medical Mission of New Orleans for Roatan’s public hospital in Coxen Hole and Clinica Esperanza in Sandy Bay.

An hour or so later we were told the container had been opened and everything inside was being distributed to its intended recipients.

This is fantastic news, makes life easier for anyone on the island who needs medical services, and proves that our local officials are capable of stepping up and solving a crisis.

 

 

Open, Sesame!

How Many Politicians Does It Take To Open a Shipping Container?

BY JEFF STRATTON

four keys to open them

Shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, a screaming siren emerged from Thicket Mouth Road and made its way to the parking lot outside of Sun/Pizza Inn/Bojangles, where a brown shipping container was surrounded by a phalanx of cameramen, reporters, and local officials.

The cop car shut down its sirens. TV cameras were shouldered.

A big white Hummer and a few other shiny SUVs pulled up, and out spilled Rosa Elena de Lobo (the wife of Honduran President Pepe Lobo), mayor Julio Galindo, deputado Romeo Silvestri, and governor Shawn Hyde.

The first lady was accompanied by at least two members of the presidential security detail, complete with those little ear-transmitter thingies and the blank, slightly menacing expressions you’d see on the faces of U.S. Secret Service agents.

Armed local police and Cobras surrounded the surreal scene. About 35 people were on hand to see the container unlocked.

In less than 30 seconds, Hyde popped open the four padlocks. The first items visible were massive desks and filing cabinets, but clearly the container was full.

“Isn’t this amazing?” asked a gringo bystander. “They hold it up for months, and then open it with all the cameras here!”

It’s true, at least four TV cameras were jostling for the best angles, but the hold-up was paperwork from the mainland, not foot-dragging by local officials.

The first lady and mayor were interviewed by TV crews.

Nurse Peggy Stranges showed up with a poker face. She and the mayor looked over the manifest. He asked her to sit tight until Monday so the list could be looked over and the items divvied up (3/4 of the items are reported to be for the public hospital, though the items are differentiated clearly on paper and color-coded in the container ).

“Relieved” is how Peggy described her feelings.

We’ll be staying on this and bringing you more news on Monday. For now, two positive events have occurred: Clinica Esperanza is open, and the container has been opened.

Success! Local Politicians Step Up and Take Control of Container Situation

Posted about an hour ago on the Save Clinica Esperanza page:

“For all those who have sent messages expressing concern regarding the medicines and equipment donated by Hope Clinic and the Hospital of Roatan, I hereby let you know that your server, along with Mayor Julio Galindo, Governor Shawn Hyde we have taken with responsibility and unconditional release of interest to the container. Sincerely Romeo Silvestri”

 

This is great news and is certainly progress in the right direction.

Clinica Esperanza, Closed at the Moment, Fights Sticky Red Tape to Re-Open ASAP

Health Care Denied, Time and Energy Wasted as Stalling and Stonewalling Stop Nurse Peggy from Treating Roatan’s Needy

BY JEFF STRATTON

Back in late March, this blog reported that the upstairs wing of Clinica Esperanza in Sandy Bay, with a new pediatrics ward and birthing center, was ready to open.

It’s now mid-July, and the crash carts and beds and defibrillators and incubators have never been used. They’re new, shiny, ready to go … and just sitting there.

“While babies on this island are dying!” wailed one of Peggy’s staff members.

Why is this happening? Why is the best modern medical facility on Roatan sitting dormant? Why is the most-used clinic for “the poor and under-served” populace unable to secure a license to operate the new wing, and why has a shipping container filled with medical supplies for the clinic (but mostly for the public hospital) been sitting in blistering heat for more than three months?

In a word: paperwork.

“Until we get those two pieces of paper (the license and the dispensa) the clinic’s closed,” Peggy said on Friday.

Friday, July 8, was a pretty big news day on Roatan, with plenty of attention focused on the red-haired bundle of nerves and strength who wanted nothing but to do her job. Instead, she was issuing press releases, tracking down the wives of presidents, and chasing wild geese.

That’s how she spent her day, instead of caring for the sick people on the island who have come to depend on her.

That morning, this blog posted her press release warning that the clinic would shut down, and within a few hours, there was a Facebook page dedicated to saving the clinic, the chat groups started buzzing, local radio worked itself into a lather, and — since it’s Roatan — rumors starting flying like junebugs under a porch light.

In fact, right around noon, anonymous reports hinted that the first lady of Honduras was emptying the shipping container of its medical supplies, in broad daylight. I met up with Channel 27 down there, and it didn’t take us long to figure out that no containers were being opened, much less by big-wig dignitaries: in fact, it was lunch/siesta time, and no one was doing anything.

No First Lady in sight

At the same time Chas Watkins was starting up his Facebook page, this blogger was following Peggy’s staff with a notebook, camera and digital recorder, and Roatan Radio (101.1 FM) applied a bit more fire to the lazy feet that are dragging and therefore hampering Peggy’s mission.

It was a weird, wired conjunction where Skype, cell phones, digital social-networking media, old-school radio and eyewitness reporting enjoyed a sort of strange convergence of connectivity.

But back at Clinica Esperanza — where the general mood was shock and disbelief (apart from the patients, who had no idea what was going on) — Peggy was calm. She’d clearly reached “the end of her tether,” as Roatan Radio boss William Crisp put it, but she wasn’t unraveling.

She was eating yogurt.

Right around 2 p.m. her Blackberry rang with an important call: the right people and papers were in place, and the container, sitting at a French Harbour dock since April 24, was ready to be opened. Of course, Peggy jumped in her red pickup and rode right down there.

Did anyone show up? Was the container opened? Did Peggy get the dispensa needed to obtain the materials, or a license that would allow her to open her new facility legally?

No, no, no and no.

Crisp, who said, “We have to assume there’s a more morbid, nasty reason behind this,” was livid. Station boss John Morris played phone tag with various sources for an hour as conflicting reports trickled in. “It’s not the Gringos who are hurting,” Crisp noted. “It’s not the rich people — it’s the people from up in the Colonia.”

And on Monday, Dr. Raymond Cherrington predicts, the closing of the clinica will doubly impact those poor people on Roatan: “I’m concerned that people will spend money on a taxi to get here — spend money they could use on food.”

To provide a slice of what a typical Peggy Stranges day is like: in the middle of her fight for the container came an urgent phone call.

A tourist experiencing full-blown renal failure, dependent on daily dialysis for survival, came to Roatan with no supplies, no dialysis fluid, nothing.

Who’s supposed to fix that problem? Saint Peggy. Who else?

“There is NO dialysis fluid on this island,” she tells the caller. “It’s over in Ceiba. He needs to go there, get in a taxi, and ask for dialysis center.”

She hangs up the phone.

“It really upsets me when people do things like this,” she says.

But back to the matter at hand: it’s 3 p.m., the first lady is nowhere to be found, and she’s the only one who has the authority to produce the necessary document to open the container.

If patience is a virtue Peggy is a paragon

An employee tells her, “She’s been told it’s been released, but I have no proof it’s been released.” Peggy recounts how the first lady had blown her off earlier that morning.

“I was very offended by that,” Peggy says. “I don’t care what your title is. Just say no. Just say somethingI don’t understand. I don’t care who it’s been consigned to – why isn’t it being released?

The tangle of paperwork is familiar to anyone on the island who has tried to take possession of anything shipped from the States. But an e-mail she received Friday from Dr. Javier Pastor, the vice-minister of the health department, offered a ray of hope.

“The first lady herself got the final authorization for the release, she is at the island right now to open the container,” read the e-mail. “It will be good, you contact her and thank her for her help.”

Peggy did just that, typing out a nice note to the first lady’s assistant on her Blackberry: “Please thank the first lady for me for all her help in getting the container open.”

“But there’s no paperwork,” the employee explains to Peggy. “If she comes and says open it, we’re gonna open it.”

Meanwhile, the clock’s ticking. A kid on the mainland, Peggy explains, has been waiting for months for a special wheelchair that’s held inside the locked container.

“What if I say open it?” Peggy asks.

The employee laughs. “I think probably at around 4 o’clock, the first lady is going to contact someone,” she says hopefully.

Peggy, exasperated but still chill, says, “She’s here on vacation, and I don’t want to bother her. But how long will a friggin’ signature take?”

No one knows when the first lady is leaving the island, but this much is set in stone:

“Not even the first lady is going to open this business on a Saturday, I can guarantee you that,” the employee tells Peggy. “We may open on a Sunday, but it will not be after 5 p.m. on Friday, and not before 5 p.m. on Saturday. That’s the legacy we’ve built this business on.”

Maybe I should just come back Monday? Peggy wants to know.

“I just don’t understand what the problem is!” she says.

“The problem is there’s no paperwork on it,” answers the employee, “which should have been done six to eight weeks ago. Then it wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Peggy’s tired of waiting. “I don’t expect anything,” she says, “so I’m never disappointed.”

But her frustration bubbles to the surface on her way back to the clinic.

“The biggest business in Honduras isn’t tourism,” she points out, “it’s philanthropy. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people who come down here every year to help Honduras, and this is the way we get treated?”

She estimates that for the last half-year, at least one hour of her weekday is devoted to the paperwork issue.

“It’s like five weeks of somebody’s life, just gone.”

She parks her pickup in the near-empty clinic lot. Her Blackberry buzzes. It’s a text message from Perla Caceres, the first lady’s personal assistant. It consists of two words.

“Thank you,” it reads.

UPDATE: Nurse Peggy Rebuffed After Requesting 5-Minute Meeting With First Lady

BY JEFF STRATTON

According to those working with a very frustrated Peggy Stranges, a contingent of staff paid a visit this morning to the West Bay hotel room of Honduran First Lady Rosa Elena de Lobo, requesting her assistance in obtaining the two documents the clinic needs to keep operating.

After asking her security guards for a short meeting to see if any help could be provided, the First Lady left without speaking to Peggy.

Here’s a great post from Living_In_Honduras by the ever-erudite and intrepid blogger, La Gringa:

“That is incredible. I hope that this gets a lot of coverage. I can’t believe that the gov’t couldn’t even be shamed into doing the right thing. This needs some publicity in the newspapers. Have you all from Roatan thought of taking out a full page ad in some of the newspapers denouncing this?

a few minutes later she posted:

“You need to get it in the national news. None of the NGOs EVER want to expose the corruption and incompetence that goes on because they are afraid of the gov’t — in effect, enabling the corruption. It seems that there is nothing to lose in this case.”

Who knows if there’s a coincidence yet, or if there is any effective way to shame the government into fixing the problem. While this situation does have parallels with RAS Express/Gil Garcia and the gasket he blew over customs delays and red tape, it’s crucial to note that these are perishable, sterile pieces of medical equipment that are needed desperately on Roatan — and have been sitting in a shipping container for more than three months now.