Eye Clinic at Santo Tomas
There are many medical groups in the US who provide medical services to underserved populations elsewhere in the world. This is the story of one of those groups that works in a small rural town in Guatemala, started by ophthalmologists Keith McKenzie of Santa Cruz, and Bob Singer of Fremont.
Map of Guatemala with red arrow pointing to Santo Tomas, approximate location.
In the 1980’s Dr. McKenzie was part of a larger medical group, La Familia, working at another rural Guatemalan town, Nuevo Progresso. In that town there is a small hospital (built with private donations from the US) that hosts large multispecialty groups, including ophthalmology. They draw patients from significant distances within the country and as far away as southern Mexico. A half day’s drive away in the town of Santo Tomas there is no eye care available.
Sister Mary Wadell, administrator of the Santo Tomas clinic, would collect people who needed eye care and drive them to Nuevo Progresso. After several years of making this trip she approached Dr. McKenzie with the idea of hosting an eye clinic in her town. He said he would give it a try for one week. That was in 1996. This year, 2008, marks the eleventh year of twice yearly trips to the Santo Tomas clinic.