Winning the 2010 Invest in Others Global Community Impact Award came at a pivotal time for Paul R. Martel and the Clinica Dulce Refugio, now known as Fundacion Internacional Buen Samaritano Paul Martel (FIBUSPAM). The organization, which is dedicated to delivering integrated health care and humanitarian support to Ecuadorians with limited economic resources, was at the cusp of growth and wary of the risks involved with expansion.
“We were considering adding a second floor surgical wing to our clinic in Riobamba,” said Paul. “It was daunting to me financially and emotionally.” Despite these hesitations, one year later the surgical unit was complete. “Invest in Others’ recognition made it actually seem possible. It was with that push that we realized how much more could be done,” explained Paul.
The surgical unit was the beginning of a snowball effect. Today, the clinic is equipped with two operating rooms, a recovery room, three patient rooms and a complete eye care center. What Paul started as a simple health clinic in 2007 is now an accredited surgical center offering care to the poor from Riobamba in seven specialties.
The center’s list of accomplishments seem endless. “We have established a sophisticated ophthalmology program that serves both adults and children with problems such as cataracts, pterygium, and strabismus. We have performed hundreds of eye surgeries at our facility. We have provided eyeglasses for thousands of children. We have hosted more than 10 foreign surgical teams who provide free surgical care to the poor,” boasted Paul proudly.
The clinic has even expanded it’s impact outside that of the building. Roughly 15 times per year, FIBUSPAM organizes “caravanas” to bring medical care to thousands in remote communities throughout Ecuador and as far away as the Amazon.
Not withstanding all of these accomplishments, Paul is already looking towards the future. “The next step for our organization is to build a larger, more adequate facility in Riobamba. Our existing facility is now too small and its design inadequate,” he commented. FIBUSPAM has plans to build a new, larger facility on a recently acquired a piece of land outside of Riobamba. “Not unlike our position back in 2010, this will be a big undertaking but a direction in which we must move.”