Thursday, April 18, 2024

First private hospital officially opens on Ambergris Caye

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The Ambergris Hope Hospital is officially open and provides crucial services to island residents and visitors. To celebrate this achievement, the private medical facility on the north part of Pescador Drive held a formal ceremony introducing its medical staff and services to a group of officials, residents, and guests.
The event was held outside the medical facility’s installations on Friday, February 23rd. Although the facility has been operating since December 2023, the management and staff have been putting the finishing touches for an official opening in early 2024. Several key island stakeholders, including Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations Honourable Anthony Mahler, and Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally Nunez, attended the momentous occasion.
The anticipated event started shortly after 6PM with Mistress of Ceremonies Cora Guillen welcoming everyone. Dr. Jorge Hidalgo delivered the opening prayer with the welcome address following the National Anthem. He is a well-known doctor in Belize and will offer his services at the hospital. He stated that as San Pedro continues to grow, a well-equipped medical facility is imperative, and he was very proud to be part of this project that aims to make the island a safe destination for everybody. The evening program of the historic event included the presentation of the Minister of Tourism, the Honorable Mahler, as keynote speaker. Mahler addressed the large crowd, commending the vision for the first hospital in San Pedro, Belize’s leading tourism and real estate destination. “It is very important to have this type of infrastructure in the biggest tourism destination in the country. I can’t underscore the importance of having this facility in this location,” said Mahler. He recognized that such development on the island was long overdue, and he congratulated those with the vision to have a hospital there.
Mayor Gualberto’ Wally’ Nunez also commended this achievement. “As we look into the future, let this hospital serve as a beacon of hope and a place where lives are restored,” said Mayor Nunez. He thanked everyone for the project. Mistress of Ceremonies Guillen then called on Dr. Daniel Gonzalez, who opened the Ambergris Caye Hope Clinic, which has transformed into a hospital.
Gonzalez shared that following a life-threatening situation in his younger days, he became a doctor. He described no formal healthcare system was in San Pedro during his younger days. Determined to find a solution to such deficiency on the island, he was able to start his medical studies in Guatemala, where he became a general doctor. He returned to Belize and worked with the Ministry of Health in the Corozal District. Dr. Gonzalez continued saying that, sometime after he had traveled to Mexico, he wanted to further his studies in medicine. He returned to Belize and trained in other medical fields, such as obstetrician-gynaecologist, which in part treats pregnant women and the delivery of babies. With all that expertise, Dr. Gonzalez started his vision of a medical facility on the island and, in April 2003, opened the Ambergris Hope Clinic. He feels very accomplished and happy to continue contributing to San Pedro. “The scene has changed from when I came back 30 years ago,” said Gonzalez. “There was not much on the island back then. As you know, over the years, it started changing when San Pedro started developing as a main tourism center. More was needed, tourists and expats expected medical services, and that’s where the idea of building such a facility came from.” Dr. Gonzalez said another factor triggering the need for a full-fledged hospital is that San Pedro’s population has increased from 1,000 to over 20,000. “San Pedro has changed, and it has grown significantly. That is why it needs a bigger medical facility for its citizens,” marked Gonzalez.
Following Gonzalez’s words, Dr. Irvin Gabourel took to the podium to share some words. He is committed to providing islanders and visitors with a world-class health service. He thanked and lauded Dr. Gonzalez and everyone involved in achieving San Pedro’s first private hospital. As Dr. Gabourel invited everyone present to toast, he once again acknowledged Dr. Gonzalez’s vision of improving healthcare on the island. He reminded everyone of the tremendous achievements that people can achieve when working together.
Father Eduardo Montemayor from the San Pedro Catholic Church blessed the project and the building following the formalities. After that, Mayor Nunez joined Dr. Gonzalez in the historic ribbon-cutting ceremony, and guests were invited to a guided tour of the facilities. The services and facilities available at the Ambergris Hope Hospital include an operating theatre, a CT (computed tomography) scan, and high-definition ultrasound. The hospital also has a pediatrician and surgeon, and it will also offer laparoscopic surgeries, a less invasive technique in which short, narrow tubes known as trocars are inserted into the abdomen through small incisions. The trocars are used to manipulate, cut, and sew tissue.

The hospital also offers 24-hour emergency care and facilities for overnight admissions, pharmacy, dentistry, radiology, X-ray services, and gynaecology tests with a fully equipped laboratory. The private hospital also has a hyperbaric chamber onsite to treat illnesses related to scuba diving, such as decompression sickness.

Numerous visitors who toured the hospital congratulated Dr. Gonzalez and his associates for their remarkable achievement. They all believed that the hospital’s success would positively impact the rapidly growing tourism and real estate industries on the island. While some continued to admire the hospital’s facilities, others joined the reception, which offered delicious food, refreshing beverages, and music.

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