Thursday, July 17, 2008

Que chevere: Saludos desde Guayaquil!

Dear all,

We're sending a warm a hello from Guayaquil! We've been here for 4 days and are getting acquainted with this city and Ecuadorian culture. Aimee, Christina, George, Jeanine, Juan and Zack are getting settled at the "Hospital Psiquiatrico Lorenzo Ponce" which is the main psychiatric hospital in Guayaquil. It's a very intense setting with hundreds of acute chronically ill patients (mostly schizophrenic). I think we're all having a bit of a shock, being in such a large setting with hundreds of severely mentally ill patients, and also the fact that some things are done so different here than in the U.S. makes it a bit disorienting. We've seen some innovative things, as well as significant limitations, which, as usual, are obviously explained by resources and their lack.
I feel like it's quite a humbling experience for any mental health professional working in the U.S. to be witness to the way very competent professionals manage to work despite lacking some of the basic things that we tend to take for granted (i.e., government support for mental health services, accessibility to atypical anti-psychotics).

By contrast, the Universidad Espiritu Santo is an impressive facility with state of the art resources (obviously, the social class that attends the hospital is quite different from the one that attends the university).

Tonight we're all invited as honored guests to a "cocktail event" to celebrate the launching of this inter-institutional collaboration among: La Fundacion Cynthia Lucero, La Universidad Espiritu Santo, Hospital Psiquiatrico Lorenzo Ponce, and MSPP. And tomorrow we're invited to a welcoming reception at the university. All of us have been working very intensely, so hopefully the students will get to do something fun
in the weekend, and I'll be flying on Saturday to Costa Rica to meet the second gang...

So, we hope everyone is having a great summer and I'm sure Aimee, Christina, George, Jeanine, Juan and Zack will have many interesting stories to tell when they return!


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