Xela AID’s June Russel-Glennon Clinic provides critical health care services including General Medicine, Specialty, and Mental Health Care serving near 5,000 people each year and creating access to health care for the broader region, about 30,000 people. Prevention is key, and a main focus: we provide parasite treatments and delouse more than 900 children each year! Our specialty services include family planning, dentistry, and optometry. The facility is well equipped and in contrast to other facilities in the region, well-stocked with medicines thanks to members of Xela AID’s Club A-Team and with the help of Direct Relief International, one of Xela AID's founding partners. You can help here:
The Clinic is a sorely needed resource in the San Martín Sacatepequez region, and enjoys a collaborative relationship with Guatemala's Health Ministry, Municipal Clinic, the General Hospital of Quetzaltenango and private health providers.
About Our Clinic’s Namesake
The June Russel-Glennon Clinic and Community Center was built by Xela AID and opened in the spring of 2005 thanks to the gifts of more than 100 donors, including a gift of land by Karen Edwards and a capstone gift from June Russel-Glennon.
Xela AID uses multiple strategies to address illness before it occurs, including teaching hygiene, preventative and curative deworming, well-baby screening and a vaccination program. We also offer family planning services and contraception.
Chronic malnutrition is prevalent in Guatemala, particularly in rural areas. It is measured and can be observed through age-height comparisons. More than 43% of all Guatemalan children are malnourished, the highest rate in all of Latin America. Chronic malnutrition among infants tops 60% in more than 108 municipalities, including San Martin Sacatepequez where Xela AID is based.
The challenge of malnutrition however is not one only of physical health and wellbeing, but impacts all aspects of a child's life, including learning: the condition predicts diminished intellectual development and a decreased capacity to learn and to be productive.
Xela AID's approach to addressing malnutrition is three-fold: to provide affordable health care which focuses on prevention, better education, and broadening economic opportunities. While the project has been measurably successful in its health and education efforts, considerable work still needs to be done to improve the local economy and to expand the model.
To prevent malnutrition, pregnant women receive vitamin supplements as a part of care. Vitamins are also dispensed when cases of malnutrition are detected at Xela AID's Clinic, and in severe cases, the organization responds by providing nutritional foods stuffs such as rice, beans, and eggs.
In the years to come, Xela AID will address these challenges by placing more emphasis on developing sustainable small businesses, and making safe, affordable loans possible.
To reduce incidences of illness, Xela AID has worked since its inception to provide instruction and materials to increase best practices in hygiene. At its clinic, patients are regularly reminded of practices that reduce illness including boiling water, safe preparation of foods, hand washing, bathing, dental care, regular house cleaning, laundering of clothing and delousing. Clinic staff use rudimentary visual aids as well as videos.
Xela AID regularly supplies supporting materials to clinic clients, including soap, tooth brushes, toothpaste and sanitary napkins.
In the future, Xela AID aims to use technology and the availability of high-quality video on the Internet to update and improve delivery of these programs, as well as increase understanding and implementation success. Additionally, the project aims to increase understanding about linkages between illness and improper sanitation, and to increase use of latrines as one measure to address contamination of agricultural fields and streams.
Xela AID collaborates with the Minister of Public Health to administer vaccinations, when available, including those preventing diphtheria, polio, tetanus and whooping cough. Xela AID is a member of the Municipal Commission of Health, comprised of all organizations providing health services in San Martin Sacatepequez and collaborates to ensure that all children are vaccinated. Due to strict requirements for the transport of vaccinations, Xela AID may not import them, but relies on local health authorities to provide them. In recent years, vaccinations have been difficult for the Guatemalan government to procure, and sadly, children in the area went without vaccinations from 2013-2016.
In rural Guatemala, the average woman will give birth to eight children, and six will survive to adulthood. Infants in the area are three times as likely to die in their first year of life as compared to the United States! This is partially because parents who are poor have difficulty providing for a large number of children, and following, children are undernourished and also have insufficient access to medical care. For those who wish to plan their families so as to have sufficient resources for the children they choose to raise, Xela AID provides contraception. In addition, with parental consent, we provide sex education, and also, women’s health education.
In rural Guatemala, it is estimated that at least 70% of all children are still delivered by midwives. Midwives, too, play an important role in public health in their use of traditional medicines, as first responders, and as conduit between the community and non-traditional health care providers (Western medicine). Xela AID's collaboration with midwives began at its inception, and continues today. We support midwives through training on subjects including best practices in birthing, risks, remedies and limits (i.e. when to seek professional medical attention), pre-natal and post-natal procedures and more. We also assist with supplies, pre-natal support, doctor’s care in case of complications, and post-natal support for mother and child. We collaborate with independent midwives, and with ACAM, Asociación de Comadronas del Área Mám including 50 active midwives.
Quality dentistry is in short supply in rural Guatemala, and access to dental services are non-existent in the majority of rural communities. The majority of children in rural areas go years, some decades, without receiving dental care; and it is common practice to remove ailing teeth rather than fill them. Xela AID is fortunate to have a volunteer dentist on staff who visits the community weekly, cleans and fills teeth, and performs extractions when they are necessary.
Since its inception, Xela AID has provided optometry services to rural communities, restoring eyesight to thousands and with it, the ability to earn a living, weave, read, and generally enjoy a higher quality of life. In recent years, Xela AID has teamed with VOSH International (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) to bring quality vision care to the community. Xela AID has also partnered with Rodolfo Robles Hospital in Guatemala City, and other optometry professionals locally to provide examinations and follow-up eye care.
Mental Health Care
Thwarting Domestic Violence, Healthy Families
Domestic violence is believed to occur in nine out of 10 homes in rural Guatemala. This includes the area where Xela AID is based. Women and children tend to be the victims of domestic violence, and research shows that the damage is far-reaching; children from such homes tend to abuse their own spouses and children. To address this and other mental health concerns, Xela AID employs a full time therapist well versed in domestic violence, and also provides legal assistance to victims of abuse. Xela AID’s ongoing Healthy Families series of workshops help parents break old patterns of abuse. There is much to be done.