July 21, 2022 | Barquisimeto, Venezuela | Patrizia Medina and Inter-American Division News

More than 2,300 persons in the city of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, received medical and healthcare services thanks to a joint initiative between the Adventist hospital, the West Venezuela Union of Seventh-day Adventists and the Smiles for Jesus Foundation (or Fundación Sonrisas de Jesús or FUNDASONJE)—an Adventist lay organization in the country.

The recent three-day event offered medical consultations to 2,346 patients in need of assistance throughout the region. The initiative provided 104 minor surgeries and treatment in 15 medical specialties including ophthalmology, ambulatory, dental, and more.

A volunteer calls at the Venezuela Adventist Hospital in Barquisimeto, calls out church members waiting for a medical consultation or treatment during the recent initiative held by the church, hospital and lay foundation to assist church members in need of medical care and minor surgeries. The initiative saw more than 2,346 patients and 104 minor surgeries in west Venezuela.  [Photo: Venezuela Adventist Hospital]

“We are very thankful to have partnered with the Smiles for Jesus Foundation once again to assist so many of our members in vulnerable and needy circumstances,” said Pastor Orlando Ramírez, president of the church in west Venezuela and chairman of the Adventist Hospital board.  Since 2017, the church has been partnering with the Adventist Lay foundation to assist communities in need across west Venezuela while promoting the healthy lifestyle the church promotes, said Ramírez.

Luis Betancourt, coordinator of social services for FUNDASONJE overseeing the project said that in the past dozens of interventions have been conducted to benefit the population in general but there was a real opportunity to reach the church members in the area. “We surveyed the needs among the church members who needed surgical attention previous to scheduling the services,” he said.

A health professional fills in paperwork before a patient is cared for during the exclusive medical care initiative for church members in need in Barquisimeto, in west Venezuela. [Photo: Venezuela Adventist Hospital]

“In Venezuela, there’s difficulty for medical services to be available in public hospitals,” explained Ramirez.  “It takes time. There are long waiting lists.” The medical consultations and surgeries hit a real need, he added.

The initiative saw the hospital’s surgeon, 30 health professions from across the country and dozens of volunteers to assist in the three-day initiative coined as “Living the Hope” where the Venezuela Adventist Hospital is located in Barquisimeto, during May 20-22, 2022.

An elderly church member is assisted during a medical consultation at the Venezuela Adventist Hospital during the medical care initiative in May 2022. [Photo: Venezuela Adventist Hospital]

“This is the first such large intervention that the hospital engages in its strategy to fulfill its mission to become the health center for all members, said Eglee Alaste, M.D., a surgeon specializing in family medicine and medical director of the Venezuela Adventist Hospital. “We are committed to reflecting who God is, in serving and offering the best for His children and the brethren.”

It was important to highlight to church members that the hospital is theirs too, said Ramirez. “The situation in Venezuela over time had created a sort of distancing and great difficulty in being able to serve people who did not have funds, to reach the poorest, and that had turned into something very complex and difficult to reach on behalf of the hospital.” With 50 percent of the resources that FUNDASONJE provided for the initiative, “we were able partner as a church and accomplish such a beautiful initiative in Barquisimeto.”

Entrance to the Venezuela Adventist Hospital or Fundación Clínica Adventista in Barquisimeto, in west Venezuela. The hospital was established in 1983 and has seven beds and an operating room. [Photo: Venezuela Adventist Hospital]

The hospital followed up with the post-operative services free of charge after the initiative concluded.

The joint venture included the West Central Venezuela Conference, the support from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Venezuela as well as the Inter-American Division.

To learn more about the initiatives and activities organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Venezuela, go to uvoc.com.ve

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