Dr Stadler’s Hospital

A generous contribution from the readers of this magazine has prevented the closure of a much needed hospital in a deprived area of Archidona, Ecuador
November 16 2016 | by

IN AUGUST 2015, St. Anthony’s Charities received an urgent request from the Dr Stadler Richter Hospital, Ecuador. Faced with the possibility of a large financial fine, court process, and the subsequent probable closure of the hospital due to the deterioration of buildings which no longer met the Ecuador Health Ministry sanitary standards, Fr. Walter Coronel, parish priest in the Apostolic Vicariate of Napo, Ecuador, and coordinator of the project to renovate the buildings, wrote requesting financial assistance.


Free services


The Dr Stadler Richter Hospital is located in the Municipality of Archidona, Napo district, approximately 34 kilometres from Tena, the provincial capital. The hospital is, effectively, located in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador. Founded in 1949 by the Josephites of Murialdo, and originally made simply from wood and bamboo, the Archidona hospital initially only provided Emergency and Maternity Services. The hospital’s structure was renovated and renewed in 1965/66 thanks to a generous financial legacy left to the vicariate by the philanthropist, Dr. Stadler Richter, of the archdiocese of Munich, Germany. In his will he stipulated that his donations should be used to renew the facilities of the hospital to make it a more suitable place to provide adequate health services to the poor and needy. Richter had been a frequent visitor to the hospital year after year to help provide medical services to the indigenous people, almost up to his death in 1986. “Now, about 180 people visit the hospital every day coming not only from Archidona, which has a population of around thirty thousand, but also from the surrounding area and towns – some as far as 80km away,” explains Fr. Walter. “Using data from the Health Ministry, we can estimate that the hospital serves about 120,000 people. Almost all patients, around 80 percent, are from the indigenous population, mainly poor families who cannot provide even for their basic needs. Usually they earn less than US$200 per month, and have large families with around 5 children per family.”

Services at the hospital are provided for free. “Since 1988, thanks to a meeting between the Ecuador Health Ministry and the Vicariate, the salaries of the doctors, nurses and administrative staff , 61 staff in total, along with supply of medicines for the pharmacy, are guaranteed,” explains Fr. Walter. “Additionally, an allocation of medicines comes from Germany, Italy and the USA. Each year during the summer period, volunteers from Texas, Denver, and New York come to help out here – especially in the Ophthalmology, Odontology, and Cardiology departments.” However, the land, building, medical equipment and all the other hospital equipment, including general service vehicles and an ambulance, belong to the vicariate, which also has the commitment for the upkeep and modernisation of the buildings according to required standards.

“Dr Richter wanted the hospital to be a place where patients could receive not only physical treatment in its various departments, but also spiritual,” adds Fr. Walter. “Richter said that ‘those who suffer physically should not remain alone in their souls.’ The Sisters of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart, provide spiritual comfort to the sick here, and Holy Mass is celebrated each day at 8 am.”


€40,000 contribution


The project consisted of the construction of a new physiotherapy room, together with reconstruction of the kitchen and the dining area to comply with the technical and health standards of the Ecuador Health Ministry. “Since the hospital was last renovated in 1965/66, there had been no further construction at the hospital,” says Fr. Walter. “The Health Ministry, who are our main partner in providing services, required us to renovate the buildings. If we had failed to do so, the hospital would have been given a heavy fine and a court process would have been opened, possibly resulting in the closure of the hospital. This would have left many poor and needy without health services. We wanted, with all our strength and might, to avoid any legal penalties and ensure our centre would not be closed.”

The total cost to complete the works was estimated at a little over €126,000. Other organisations had already committed to assisting with the project, and St. Anthonys Charities was asked for, and approved a contribution of €40,000.


Upgraded facilities


The new physiotherapy room is 322 square metres, and built on the ground floor. Within the structure there are also five bathrooms specially adapted for the sick. As well as all other necessary services, the room includes a new communication system and security measures. The kitchen and dining room, on the other hand, required the dismantling of the entire floor space. In order to meet the health standards required by the Health Ministry, tiling was required to a height of 2 metres, the roof structure needed to be replaced with thermal and anti-noise materials, with reinforced steel beams to support it, and the water, electrical, drainage and communications infrastructure needing to be totally replaced. Doors and windows also needed to be replaced with aluminium and glass. Work was completed on the project in June 2016.

“Thanks to God, there were no financial problems which impeded the realisation of our project,” says Fr. Walter. “In order to finance the works, we received support from other charities, and also from the local public authorities. This included the Municipality of Archidona, which generously collaborated by providing excavation machinery.” The formal inauguration of the new physiotherapy room took place on the first week of June 2016 by Msgr. Adelio Pasqualotto, CSG, (Vicar Apostolic, Napo) who blessed the new structures, and they became officially available in the service of the community, although in reality treatment of the elderly had begun 15 days earlier.

“Every year our hospital reaches out to about 65,000 people who need medical services,” continues Fr. Walter. “This equates to around 6,800 surgeries in different medical specialty departments with 102,124 examinations of different types made last year in our hard working laboratory, in spite of the limited resources at its disposal.”


Infinite thanks


Dr. Marco Toapanta, a physiotherapist at the hospital, says “Our gratitude goes to our charitable friends who have made the construction of this new facility possible. It had been necessary for a number of years in order to provide better medical facilities in this area, but a lack of resources made it impossible to achieve. But now, with many helping hands from around the world and also in Ecuador, we have more suitable rooms for the recovery therapies carried out here. May God reward your generosity towards us.”

 “Infinite thanks to the readers of the Messenger of Saint Anthony and to St. Anthony’s Charities,” concludes Fr. Walter, “With your help, we can continue in our health promotion, education and cultural help among the indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Thanks for allowing us to meet the needs of the most needy, providing health services which the poor deserve, because in them, the Lord makes us see his suffering face, and that demands everyone’s attention. Be assured of remembrance in our prayers and please continue to pray for the poor in the Amazonian lowlands.”


Updated on November 21 2016