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Hospitals to benefit from major donation of equipment through Belizean diaspora

Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2024. 9:23 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Various hospital equipment valued at US$1.8 million (BZ$3.6 million) was officially handed over from Belizean-Americans in the Los Angeles, California area through Edward and Patricia Lord, generous donors from the Belizean diaspora, and Build Belize Inc., to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations.

Back in February, a major hospital in Los Angeles, the Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Hospital, was scheduled for physical demolition, and a group of Belizean Americans led by the Lords came together to salvage the working medical equipment and supplies and send it to Belize. Donations were accepted via GoFundMe to obtain shipping and transportation costs after the scheduled demolition on March 2, and ultimately three tractor-trailers’ worth of donated equipment, including medical and birthing beds, defibrillators, patient monitors, infusion pumps, and vital sign monitors, have arrived and will now be distributed nationwide.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness, said at this afternoon’s ceremony at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), “Today, we mark a new chapter in our healthcare narrative, one that speaks of progress, partnership, and the promise of a healthier future for all Belizeans. We embrace this generous gift, knowing that it will touch many lives and elevate the standard of care that we can provide.”

Later, he told reporters that several areas have already been targeted for assistance: “There’s a list of identified areas that I know when they had visited, they know, they have identified specific equipment that should be going to. And as I had said in my message, when I spoke to them initially, they asked that we ensure that some of this equipment goes exactly where they have been recommended. So, some of them are in various parts of the country, [regional] and community hospitals. I don’t have that list in terms of exactly what’s going where, but I know that they have identified what is needed, where it’s needed, and how then, so my CEO will be working along with them. So, we are working with the team to ensure that these things are distributed [on time], so we don’t want them to be sitting in a container, but they are now, the next step is to get them deployed into where [they] need to go so that we can start to utilize these donations.”

The KHMH, according to its CEO Chandra Nisbet-Cansino, has identified particular needs from the equipment: “We have some ICU [intensive care unit] beds, which are extremely important for our ICU, we have some monitors as I explained earlier, and we also have some defibrillators and a few other things that are very, very helpful for the doctors and nurses.”

Tourism and Diaspora Relations Minister Anthony Mahler hailed the support of the diaspora in Belizean development: “The diaspora unit is a conduit for people all around the world to be able to support us back home here in Belize. Whatever they’re sending back. So it could be in terms of donations…The Diaspora already sends back close to two hundred fifty million through the official sources. That’s not the amount that comes through barrels and envelopes and suitcases and stuff like that. They contribute a tremendous amount.”


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