North York General in Guatemala

NYGH Staff Goes Beyond Care in Guatemala

NYGH Staff in the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency work closely with their partners in Toronto Paramedic Services every hour of every day. So when Andrea Ennis, Clinical Team Manager, Emergency Services, learned that two advanced care tactical paramedics, Emmanuel Monssen and Marvin Austin, had created a grassroots initiative to undertake missionary work in Guatemala, she didn’t hesitate to join.

“Every day, I see how community support helps our hospital,” says Andrea. “I know how important it is, so I’ve always wanted to help another community in need.”

For the past three years, Andrea and NYGH’s Jennifer Page, Clinical Nurse Educator, Post-Anaesthesia Care Unit and Emergency Services Program, Ann Shook, Clinical Co-ordinator, Emergency Services, have joined Emmanuel and Marvin on their missionary trip. This year, they were joined by another member of the NYGH team, Gareth Dean, Sr. Specialist, Information Services.

Late last fall they embarked on a 10 day volunteer trip to Guatemala, bringing over 3,000 lbs of clothing and supplies, vaccinations and medical equipment, and 40 pairs of hands willing to do whatever the local community needed.

“We were truly working with the community,” explains Andrea. “They dictated what they needed and we pitched in to help.”

Each morning, the group travelled by school bus to the local site in a marginalized area of Guatemala City – the capital of Guatemala with a population of approximately 2.9 million people. They ate breakfast with the locals and discussed their tasks for the day. Half of the group would don construction gloves to mix concrete and move bricks to help build a school while the other half would pull on latex gloves and head over to their makeshift clinic to provide community members vaccinations from tetanus and parasites.

North York General in Guatemala

At the end of a long day, the volunteers didn’t kick back in front of the TV or their smart phones. They ate dinners cooked by the local women, sang songs with the children and played soccer with the younger boys. “It was a reminder of what it’s like to step away from technology and distractions,” says Andrea. “To just live in the moment and enjoy it.”

North York General in Guatemala

The work done by this volunteer group in just 10 days would have taken the local community weeks to accomplish. “The local people were grateful for our help, and they were surprised that we were going out of our way – even giving our own money – just to help them,” says Andrea. “We are so fortunate here in North York. For me, it felt like an opportunity to pay that generosity forward.”