Cuenca’s Social Vision Foundation delivers medicine and ‘dogs for hope’ to Municipal Hospital patients

Apr 8, 2024 | 0 comments

By Brian Hitsky

The Cuenca foundation that believes everyone deserves quality health care is augmenting its assistance up to other levels.

Teddy on a patient’s bed.

Social Vision, known for offering medical services to those who need it most, is now providing life-saving medicine to the public hospital system. Foundation Municipal de La Mujer y El Nino de Cuenca recently received costly powerful antibiotic drugs that are hard to come by. Not only is Social Vision contributing to the physical welfare of the facility’s patients, but it is also meeting the emotional needs of sufferers by initiating an innovative animal therapy program, popular in the United States, but unique in Ecuador.

“We met with city officials because the nature of public hospitals is that crucial medicines and supplies are needed, but are lacking for quality patient treatment,” said Social Vision President and Founder Jim Cory. “We learned certain antibiotics were in short supply, tracked a source to obtain them and delivered the first needed batch to the hospital. We are committed to continue the program, because the medical professionals say that the special medicine is needed to save lives.”

Teddy getting a treat from a patient.

Cory said in discussions with hospital staff assessing their needs, he brought up the idea of having trained and qualified therapy dogs visit patients, a program successful in the USA. And of course, the perfect dog to serve in the pilot program was Teddy, a four-year-old Pomeranian that’s a key part of the Social Vision team. In addition, Social Vision’s close connection to the animal welfare group FAAN, will provide resources to co-organize the start-up program.  A test run of the program last week featuring Teddy had hospital administrators, medical staff and patients adoring the little fur ball.

Teddy and Jim with a smiling patient.

“We are hopeful that other hospital administrators see that Teddy, and other qualified “perros” provide comfort and support to patients, who may feel anxious or uneasy about their medical care. Calming nerves, or just putting a smile on faces, is a soothing approach to creating a better environment,” said Cory. He explained that dogs need to be specifically trained and qualified to enter the program, and it would take place gradually.

Rosemary Rein of FAAN said her group was pleased to partner with Social Vision to spread animal love and hope to patients at Cuenca’s hospitals. ‘The program is known as ‘Perros de Esperonza (Dogs of Hope),” said Rein. “The vetting and training of dogs with their owners will begin in May. All dogs will need to be certified by FAAN and Social Vision.”

Teddy, patient and Hospital Director Fabian Zamora.

Teddy was certified in the USA as a Service Dog. He was the first test case to be approved by hospital administration.

FAAN and Social Vision are hoping that pet owners, with calm and well-behaved dogs, will participate in the program. If the owner and animal are assessed as a match for the program, training will commence, and testing will take place in a hospital environment. A volunteer schedule will be flexible for Perros de Esperanza.  Rein explained that if a pet owner would like to be considered, they can contact FAAN at info@FAANecuador.com.

Hospital Director Fabian Zamora said, “We are very thankful to Social Vision Foundation for its gracious gift of medicine to the people of Cuenca. It will benefit our patients in desperate need. We are also looking forward to the animal therapy program. Any project helping to keep our patients calm and in high spirits is beneficial.”

Meropenem is one of the badly needed medications Social Vision has delivered to Cuenca Municipal Hospital patients.

Cory expressed a special thank you to the city’s International Relations Department, which coordinated the facilitation of the donation of medicine and the introduction of the Therapy Dog program. Cynthia Cornejo, and Director of the department, Felipe Ochoa, worked closely with Social Vision, the hospital and Mayor Cristian Zamora to negotiate the legal channels. Once Teddy met the mayor’s staff and demonstrated his demeanor, he was given unanimous support to fulfill the role of Cuenca’s first dog.

“Cuenca is the residence of more than 22,000 individuals of nationalities other than Ecuadorian, with a significant portion represented by the North American community, who have chosen our city as a place to settle,” said Mayor Zamora. “We extend our warmest welcome to them and express our gratitude for the invaluable social services they provide within our canton, benefiting numerous individuals in need.

Teddy, Jim Ciry and patient.

“In accordance with our local expression, “Dios les pague” (May God repay you), let us persist in this collaborative endeavor, a commitment shared by all who cherish our esteemed city of Cuenca.”

Social Vision is a legal charity in Ecuador and the United States.  It is less than two-years-old and is known as the organization that gets things accomplished. It has served more than 100 patients who can’t afford medical treatment and without the foundation’s efforts, would have fallen through the cracks. It has a distinct Board of Directors from both Ecuador and the United States who bring a range of perspectives, expertise and experiences to better serve the community.

The foundation’s Medical Director is Dr. Ivan Vallejo, head of Orthopedics and traumatology at Monte Sinai Hospital.  It has partnered with some of the best healthcare facilities in Cuenca, including Monte Sinai, Exilaser, CIMA, Clinica Latino, PhysioGym, Aqua and Hospital Del Rio.  Services to patients include orthopedic and traumatology, vision, cardiac care, gastroenterology, physical therapy, dermatology, pediatric and adult neurology, geriatrics, pharmacy, dental, neurosurgery and pain management.

To learn more about Social Vision or to contribute to support individual’s needs or public hospital medicine and supply purchases, contact: https://socialvisioncuenca.org

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