News Report from Creel, April 3, 2016

The Tarahumara Children’s Hospital Complex
Creel, Chihuahua
April 3, 2016

The Clinic:

Statistics: In 2015 we gave medical assistance to 5,528 patients, of which 1,875 were children; we also received 60 emergency cases. The monthly average of those hospitalized was 19 adults and 26 children- We did 3,372 laboratory tests, of which 837 were with those hospitalized. We did 1,167 X Rays, of which 744 were of those hospitalized. We transported to other hospitals 182 children and 237 adults. Five of our patients died last year.

Process of Accreditation: on December 1st a team from the Federal Certification Office visited us. This was due to a number of issues that we have been trying to correct and/or implement: Citology (to detect cancer in the uterus), vaccinations, family planning and psychology. A dental program is needed, but we are trying to set up an agreement with a nearby clinic, because of the cost. Our next visit by this team will be in July of this year. We are working as a team in order to prioritize our process of accreditation and, by so doing, continue to qualify for government health insurance funds, which right now reimburse 80% of our medical cost per patient. If we receive accreditation, that percentage may increase, or, at least, we won’t lose it.

Government subsidy: The State government did not renew our subsidy in 2015, which year by year we have counted on since 2009. It was in 2014 that we last received 400,000 pesos monthly (around $25,000 dollars). Since early 2015 we have made several attempts to have that subsidy reinstated, but to date without success.

Food distribution program: In this program more than 20 tons of grain has been distributed. The recipient communities commit themselves to doing work in return (fixing the roads leading to their community, for example). This year we have only given away grain to those communities that have lived up to that agreement. For this current year we anticipate a distribution of 100 tons of corn and 20 tons of beans. Besides this, we have also given away cooking pots, tennis shoes and blankets.

Clean water project: In 2015 we didn’t drill any additional wells. However, we did a survey of what we have: of the 60 wells, some are badly in need of maintenance. On some, we were able to do a few minor repairs. Steve Schneider from our Oregon support group began to implement a “Water for Life” project, which consists in analyzing the quality of water in all of our wells spread throughout the Tarahumara, and then suggests ways to improve its quality. They are about a forth of a way there. When completed, they will share the data with us. They are programming another visit here in the summer to study the water quality in the rainy season, as compared to the dry season, and then compare the results. From what we have found out so far, the quality of our well water is good, with very minimal levels of bacteria or arsenic in some. Besides, we haven’t had any reports from the communities where the wells are located of people getting sick from the water. Along with Steve we are thinking, therefore, about re-orienting his program toward repairing the 20 wells, and with whatever funds that are left proceed to drill more wells in communities requesting our help. We have already decided on the first spot, a community called Basigórabo. Since our drilling equipment has been somewhat dormant, we also need to think about investing in the machinery so that it is up to par. We are moving slowly but surely.

The Rejogochi School: Our school “Benesika Anagupi” (which means ‘learning together’), located in the Rejogochi community, now has 80 boys and girls. We were awarded funds from a supermarket that asked customers to “round off” their change at the cash register to the closest peso amount at the time of check out. That award came to a total of $325,000 pesos (about $20,310 dollars). This gift will help us remodel the bathrooms, buy newer computer equipment, build an audio-visual room and purchase equipment. We also want to channel some of the funds toward remodeling parts of the house where the teachers live in Rejogochi. Our school has been particularly decisive in fomenting Rarámuri celebrations for the children (i.e. the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, All Kings Day, Holy Week, etc.), so that the children are familiar with these centuries old customs, that speak directly to their identity as a culture. This year we will also put up a cyclone fence around the school property. This will give the students more privacy and security. Since last October there has been an increase in the presence of fellows who are armed as part of the drug lord business. The community will help in putting up the fence. We are hoping that our friends in the U.S. will help us with the cost. In August of last year we signed an agreement to receive $75,000 pesos a year for the school (about $4,680 dollars). So far we haven’t received that money.

Financial support: We are presenting a project to the ALSUPER Foundation in the hope that it will support us by helping out with the payroll for the nurses at the Clinic.

We have also asked support from “The Hilton Fund for Sisters”, in the amount of $15,000 dollars. This Foundation does not help with salaries, but would probably be willing to help us buy a new ambulance, which will cost about $45,000 dollars. They will let us know in June.

We are about to visit, once again, the Secretary of Health for the State of Chihuahua so he is aware of how difficult it is for us to find certified doctors to come up and work in Creel. Because of the high demand for outpatient care and hospitalization at our Clinic, the government could never meet these needs. But, the same government could possibly send us a medical doctor whose salary would be covered by the government. It will be an opportunity for us to inform the government about the importance of our work as we attend primarily to the needs of the Rarámuri people.


Fr. Miguel Quintanilla, S.J.



Keep me safe, o God; you are my hope (Ps15)

Help me to remember that nothing is going to happen

to me today that you and I together can´t handle.