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: 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.”


Container Opened — Hospital and Clinic Getting What They Need

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


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.



UPDATE re: comments

Thanks for the comments.
To clarify: The clinic is NOT “being shut down.” Peggy is shutting the clinic down until the government officials provide her paperwork necessary to operate the upstairs of the clinic and open a shipping container.

Additionally, demanding that this page include a filter to censor comments goes against basic journalism, truth, justice, and the American way. On this blog, and in my magazine, people have a right to say what they want, no matter how asinine it is. Thanks for reading, everybody. Hope to get another magazine out soon!

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


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


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.

Clinica Esperanza to Shut Its Doors After Today

Bogged down by red tape, Nurse Peggy can no longer operate the clinic


Unused and unlicensed: The upstairs of Nurse Peggy's clinic, waiting since March for approval to open

A press release issued by Nurse Peggy Stranges at 8:30 a.m. today:

“It is unfortunate that we are closing Clinica Esperanza on Monday. We have worked with the Ministry of Health since before March to acquire our license for the clinic without success. We also have a container with necessary equipment for the municipal hospital and Clinica Esperanza that has been here since April and has not been released. The Ministry of Health has been working on a dispensa for the container since February. We can no longer sit by idly while the people of Roatan suffer for these two pieces of paper.

I want to thank Julio Galindo and the Grant family for donating the land that made Clinica Esperanza a reality. I want to thank deputado Romeo Silvestri, Dr. Fermin Lopez and Mr. Clinton Everett for all their help in dealing with the license and the container

I am sorry for any inconvenience this causes our patients but we can no longer continue under the present circumstances.”

Hospital Nurse Peggy Opens in Style

Birthing center/maternity wing ready to go in Sandy Bay


Peggy Stranges, probably as close to a saint as our island can claim, looked like she was walking on air yesterday.

Understandable, if you check out the new upstairs at Clinica Esperanza, which betters any health care facility on Roatán.

Thursday afternoon’s dedication brought more than 100 supporters,  volunteers, and health care professionals to the ceremony, and when chairs from the clinic’s waiting room weren’t enough, churches donated the rest.

“I’m the pass-through person,” Peggy told the crowd, refusing to take any credit for completing the project. “This is a gift, and I’m passing it along to you.”

Smoke from grilled chicken and pork filled the air as Connie from Island Saloon slaved over hot coals.

Since it’s Roatán and microphones were in place, we sat through speeches. But they were self-effacing and funny, until Peggy told a story about a young mother who’d recently given birth.

At first things seemed fine, said Peggy. Then complications set in and the baby died Wednesday night, she told the crowd.

“I want to dedicate at least part of this new birthing center to Emily,” she said.

Peggy looked nervous all afternoon. She kept a smile on lock-down, probably because she knew if she let it loose she’d have a perma-grin. Five years she’s been working on this thing, but, in true Peggy fashion, she gave all the credit to everyone else.

“It’s not me,” she told the Reporter. “It’s all the people who believed in it. They’re doing it.”

And she stressed educating the community as the key to enhancing health care on Roatán.

“The clinic is a band-aid on an amputation,” she said, “without education.”

As Dr. Patrick Connell told the crowd, the standard of care on an island like Roatán may not match that in the U.S. “But the standard of caring is greater.”