Roatán Volunteer Pediatric Clinic Newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 1 March 2005

Letter from Our Director

Dear Friends,

We are so very grateful for all of your support through the first two years of the Roatán Volunteer Pediatric Clinic. With your help, the clinic has grown into an integral component of Roatán's newborn and pediatric health care system.

Since opening within the Public Hospital Roatán in Summer 2003, the RVPC is now seen by many islanders as the clinic of choice for pediatric care. To date, our volunteer pediatricians have attended nearly 4,000 outpatient visits, now caring for 15-30 children per day. Pediatric consultation is now extending into the ward, labor & delivery, nursery, and emergency room.

In addition to providing health care for the underprivileged, Global Healing and the RVPC have maintained goals of improving local pediatric knowledge and infrastructure (to allow eventual self-sufficiency) and developing structured opportunities for pediatricians and pediatric residents to volunteer abroad.

Volunteers round/discuss the care of hospitalized children with local physicians; have taught the local staff how to utilize continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in newborn resuscitation; promote breast feeding in both inpatient and outpatient settings; emphasize general nutrition and modes of feeding to better combat malnutrition, especially in infants; have helped repair and maintain existing hospital equipment; and are slowing introducing new technological aides. The RVPC has developed a "Virtual Curbside" internet-based consultation system, linking pediatric subspecialty support direct from the San Francisco Bay Area (Children's Hospital Oakland, Stanford University, UC San Francisco) to the Public Hospital Roatán. Dr. Eric Scher has developed the Pediatric Fellowship Program, allowing a local physician to work at the RVPC on a regular basis, benefiting educationally through daily side-by-side patient care interactions with the volunteer pediatric staff. The first Pediatric Fellow, Dr. Raymond Cherington, is now developing his own practice on the island—one which will help the children of Roatán for years to come.

RVPC volunteers have come from all across the United States—Rhode Island to Florida to California. In the next year, we will be adding volunteer pediatricians from Europe and Canada! Attending volunteers have been fantastic, both giving so much to the local children, and sharing their experiences with others back home. Several attendings have returned to Roatán again (and again)! We have also been very pleased with the pediatric residents rotating through the RVPC. It is exciting to see more and more residents from each involved university/teaching hospital applying after hearing about the experiences of their classmates.

As the RVPC has developed into a facility for health care, teaching, and our volunteer group's own cultural education, it is a natural extension to involve more individuals interested in this type of experience. With attending and resident volunteers now staffing the clinic year-round, we are beginning to work with highly motivated medical students and undergraduates; this new program is a partnership with SCOPE, a non-profit organization affiliated with Stanford University. Together with other local NGO's (such as those run by nurse extraordinaire Peggy Stranges, social worker Valerie Nelson, and the From the Heart Foundation), we hope to further improve community health and health education throughout the island.

All of us at Global Healing greatly appreciate the generous contributions which have supported the RVPC through its infancy. We owe thanks to so many individuals, especially two couples whose substantial grants over our first two years truly allowed this 100% volunteer project to take its first "baby steps". The RVPC's potential is becoming reality, and through the nurturing and encouragement of new supporters like Dave and Dana Dornsife, the RVPC is now ready to 'run'.

Thanks again for your interest and support—the RVPC owes all of its success to people like you.


Arup Roy-Burman, MD

RVPC Emphasizes Importance of Newborn Care

According to the most recent figures published by UNICEF, Honduras has an under-five year old mortality rate of 41/1000. While this figure has improved over the last 10 years, there is still a long way to go. Volunteers at the RVPC understand that every child needs a healthy start in life, and that the early childhood years are absolutely crucial to a child's future. The doctors at RVPC are very active in newborn care, and have taken a special role in the management of newborns. Dr. Eric Scher has been instrumental in teaching the hospital staff specialized skills to stabilize sick newborns.

One of the most crucial issues in newborn care is that of nutrition. WHO and UNICEF both recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. This is particularly important in areas that do not have a clean and sustainable water supply. Our volunteers examine newborns daily and discuss this important issue with families.

Premature baby weighing just over 2 pounds Here she is several weeks later- a much healthier size!

One exciting recent advance has been the addition of a refrigerator and breast pumps to the hospital. Babies born prematurely are often too small to breastfeed right away. If they are unable to nurse, a mother may not be able to produce an adequate milk supply, and many of these babies would be given formula. Through the generous donations of our supporters, mothers can now pump and store their breastmilk- giving their babies the healthiest start on life!

Dr. Sanjeev Datar examines a newborn while her grandmother looks on.
Breastmilk is especially important for premature babies.  Here, a new mom feeds her baby with milk she has pumped and stored. Colostrum- early breastmilk-is rich in important nutrients and immune factors.  By pumping, this mom had plenty to offer her baby!

Travelogue: Trip to Trujillo

In November, 2004, Global Healing volunteer Eileen Birmingham accompanied four patients and their families on a trip to Trujillo to have eye surgery performed by the surgeons on the Mercy Ships. Strabismus, a condition commonly known as "cross eyes" is a condition easily repaired in the U.S., but often left untreated in developing countries. With the help of the Mercy Ship organization, and the Galaxy Ferry Company, the patients were all successfully repaired. 16 year old Melodi was excited the surgery took place just weeks before her graduation from high school: "I've been waiting my whole life for this!"

Sunday Morning: We got an early start on our trip to Trujillo. Troy was excited to be on the ferry. Monday Morning: Troy is evaluated for surgery.
Monday Afternoon: Troy is ready to go! Monday afternoon: Carlos rests after his repair.
Monday evening: A very tired Troy naps on the bus back to our lodging. Monday evening: Melodi and her mom walk back to the hostel after an eventful day!
Tuesday morning: A happy Roatán group gets ready to return home!
Melodi immediately prior to her surgery. Melodi on Friday afternoon!

Global Healing Partners With SCOPE.

Letter from Jennifer Miller, Director of SCOPE

On behalf of the SCOPE program, I would like to express appreciation for being offered the opportunity to work with Global Healing in the RVPC clinic. As the first SCOPE student here, my month so far has been an enlightening, motivating experience. I have learned a lot about pediatric medicine in general while gaining insight into the rewards and challenges of providing medical care in a resource-limited setting. The ability to make a small difference in the lives of individual patients has been very moving and has provided me with a renewed appreciation for the privilege health care workers have been given of being able to play a meaningful role in the lives of their patients.

In addition to my time at the RVPC, the opportunity to witness the inner workings of a small island's health care system, including the often cooperative yet sometimes precarious relationships between providers, has provided me with an unparalleled lesson in practical public health.

A special thank you to Arup and Sheila for their support in the creation of this partnership, to Dr. Eric Scher and Miss Peggy for introducing me to the island and its beautiful people, and to Joanna, Ellen, and Sanjeev for being such wonderful teachers and mentors. I have no doubt that the experience S.C.O.P.E. members gain in Roatán will impact their future paths in medicine in a very powerfully positive way.

A brief description of SCOPE:

Jennifer Miller with a nurse at Roatán Public Hospital
The SCOPE (Shadowing for Clinical Opportunity and Premedical Experience) program, is a student-run premedical organization based out of Stanford University, with a goal of fostering a community of future doctors committed to the core ethics of service, cooperation, responsibility, outreach, and caring. Through broad-based, diverse outreach and service projects, clinical internships in local hospitals, as well as international clinical internships in Nepal and Mexico (and now Honduras), students work side by side with physicians to learn first-hand about their daily work and service ethic. In addition to providing a learning and self-discovery opportunity for students, SCOPE seeks to make a positive impact on the lives of patients and other community members. It is our goal that students will contribute to the delivery of quality pediatric health care to an underserved population through both assistance to physicians at the RVPC and through various long-term projects, including survey administration, to better understand the patient population served by the clinic. It is hoped that the cross-cultural exposure students will gain will build awareness among premedical students of health care needs abroad and enable them to develop a more effective relationship with immigrant families at home as they pursue a career in medicine.

To learn more about SCOPE's Roatán Clinical & Public Health Internship (and see more RVPC pictures) visit

RVPC Receives New Year's Wish

Global Healing received great news that the Roatán Volunteer Pediatric Clinic (RVPC) would be the recipient of a generous financial gift from California-based, Dave and Dana Dornsife. After reviewing the mission of the RVPC and examining its annual needs, the couple took no time to commit to covering the clinic’s operating budget for 2005.

Global Healing’s co-founders of the Roatán Volunteer Pediatric Clinic were delighted with the news and see this donation as clear recognition of the success of the program and each of its volunteers.

“We are very excited. Only two years ago, the RVPC was only an idea. Through the hard work of so many volunteers, and the financial support of many donors, the clinic has developed into an integral component of the Roatán pediatric health care system, “ said Dr. Arup Roy-Burman, co-founder and Director of the RVPC.

“This gift will also help the RVPC’s role to continue to grow, expanding regular pediatric patient care and medical education from the outpatient setting into the ward, nursery, delivery room, and emergency room, as well as directly into surrounding communities,” continued co-founder Dr. Sheila Jenkins.

The Dornsifes, parents of six children, are dynamos in their professions, and both work for several philanthropic concerns. Dave Dornsife is the Chairman of the Board of the Herrick Corporation and subsidiaries, as well as Gillig Corporation, a bus manufacturing firm. He is VP of the Hedco Foundation, whose mission is health and educational improvement. He is also a supporter of World Vision, for whom he has made many overseas trips including travels to Mauritania, Senegal and Mali, where he was involved in water-well drilling, micro-enterprise development, and literacy programs.

Dana Dornsife is well respected in her field of design, and in 2002 she founded Adorn, a certified lighting and interior design company. For the last 18 months Dana has worked with the Epeius Corporation to bring out a new cancer drug using gene therapy and a targeted delivery system. We wish Dana luck as Epeius begins Phase I clinical trials of this drug in June.

From all of us at Global Healing, Thank you Dave and Dana, and welcome to the family!

Meet Our Volunteers

Dr. Howard Gruber, and his wife Alice Gruber, RN, joined the RVPC in July, 2004. Their experience was much appreciated by the Roatán Hospital staff. Howard ran a pediatric practice in Berkeley for 35 years and is currently the Medical Director at Children's Hospital Oakland. In addition to being a nurse, Alice has served for many years as a counsultant to many health-related projects. We welcome her with much gratitude to her new role as Treasurer of Global Healing.

Dr. Greg Rozycki, a third-year resident at UCSF, worked with Howard and Alice in July. Greg has extensive experience working abroad, including a year in Cambodia. Greg was joined in Roatán by his wife Sonia, and the two continue to help with the education of a local child.

The Grubers, front left, and Greg Rozycki, standing left, with doctors from the Roatán Hospital, and our Nurse Betty (sitting right).

Dr. Eileen Birmingham worked in Roatán in August and September, and returned in November for her second trip. Eileen finished her residency at UCSF in 2003 and works as a General Pediatrician in the Bay Area. She plans to contine with international travel, including another visit to Roatán this coming June.

Dr. Seble Fisseha is a third-year resident at Children's Hospital Oakland who volunteered in September. Seble will finish her residency this year and plans to work abroad in the future.

Dr. Seble Fisseha finishing a busy day at the clinic.

Dr. Juliana Gomez-Arostegui,is a recent graduate of the Stanford Pediatric Residency program. She currently works as a hospitalist in the Bay Area and her special interest in pediatric cardiology was much appreciated in the clinic.

Dr. Jessie Gargas rotated through the RVPC in November. She is the second Medicine-Pediatrics resident from UCSD, following our very first resident at the RVPC, UCSD alumnus Dr. Ben Pecht.

Dr. Sanjeev Datar visited Roatán in January. He recently completed his residency at UCSF and will be starting a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care at UCSF and Children's Hospital Oakland this Spring.

Dr. Ellen Chen also volunteered in the clinic in January. Ellen is a third-year resident in the UCSF Family Practice Residency and will start as a Chief Resident in July.

Dr. Ellen Chen examines an ill child.

Dr. Joanna Bell, a Medicine-Pediatrics resident from Providence, Rhode Island, volunteered in January.  She was able to use her skills to care for both children and adults on the island. 

Dr. Susan Conrad, an Attending Endocrinologist at Children's Hospital Oakland, brought her expertise to Roatán in December. We look foward to her return!

Dr. Eric Scher—Our “Director of Clinical Affairs” returned for his fifth! rotation at the RVPC.  As always, Eric provided intensive training for the hospital staff and important care for the patients of Roatán. Eric, we wouldn't have come this far without you!

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Wendolyn Zelaya


Dr. Wendolyn Zelaya made important contributions to the ward team.  Here she poses with a special patient.

Dr. Wendolyn Zelaya is a very special Global Healing volunteer.  She is a native of Honduras, attended medical school there, and was a fully trained physician in Honduras.  Currently, she is a resident at Washington University in St. Louis.  She volunteered at the clinic in November/December, 2004.   Wen's past and current training combined to make her an invaluable Global Healing volunteer.

In a letter to her family and friends, Wen described her experience at the Clinic

"My experience in Roatán was full of learning opportunities. Being a native Honduran, it was my great pleasure to see my people and serve them again. This time I was able to bring the additional knowledge and experience that I have acquired in my residency and combine it with my previous experience of the national system. I expected to be frustrated by the limitations of the national system that I was about to encounter again. To my great happiness, I found Global Healing to be a great asset for Roatán’s neediest patients. For them, Global Healing provides coverage the hospital can not afford.

On a typical day the outpatient clinic will see 20-25 children with various common illnesses including upper respiratory infections, malaria and skin infections. Parents appreciate the important tool of education regarding their children’s health. They have confidence and faith in Global Healing’s staff. They know that they will not be turned away, yelled at, or simply ignored."

Thank you Wen!  We look forward to your next visit!

Special Thanks to Our Supporters

We appreciate all of the help and support we have gotten from everyone. Including...

Steve Seidman and the staff of Longs Pharmacy on Grant Avenue in Novato.  They have frequently donated much needed medications and supplies to our clinic.  Our physicians can provide much better care thanks to their help!

Chris Costello, a lactation specialist at Marin General Hospital, and Medela for the beautiful pedal breastpumps that are used so often by mothers of hospitalized children.

Jeff Kuken at Casa Calico in Roatán for his help with all of our housing needs. If you are visiting Roatán, Casa Calico is a great place to stay! Thank you Jeff!

Dalina Trejo at Taca Airlines for assisting our volunteers with the transport of supplies to the clinic. Her help makes the trip much smoother.

Volunteering at the RVPC

Are you a pediatrician or pediatric resident who would like to volunteer? We are taking applications now for both pediatricians and third year pediatric residents who would like to work at the RVPC. Ideal rotation length is four weeks, or more! There are still some positions open for this Summer!

Would You Like to Contribute?

The Roatán Volunteer Pediatric Clinic is a partnership between Global Healing and the Public Hospital Roatán, with approval and support of the Honduran Ministry of Health. The RVPC is located within the Public Hospital Roatán. It has been staffed nearly continuously by U.S. volunteer physicians since establishment in July 2003. The clinic is open to any and all children and has no religious or other special interest affiliation. Care is provided free of charge (patients only pay the Public Hospital the standard fee of about US $0.05). Global Healing has no paid staff—100% of donations to the RVPC go directly to the program.

Contact Information:

Sheila Jenkins, MD, and Arup Roy-Burman, MD
Global Healing
Email: arup@Roatá
Website: www.Roatá

If you are interested in contributing, please contact Global Healing through its website ( or by phone at (925) 327-7889. You can also use our online donation form if you prefer. 100% of your contributions of cash, stock, or property is deductible from your federal and state taxes.

Global Healing is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to accomplish health care reform, through education, in areas of the world where modern health care is not available.

Copyright 2005 Roatán Volunteer Pediatric Clinic. All Rights Reserved.