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30 Cyclists Conquer Mountains and Miles to Raise Funds to Improve Health Care Delivery in Rural Ecuador

Aug 20, 2015 10:01PM ● By MED Magazine

On June 13, 30 dedicated cyclists embarked on the Andean Health 1500- mile trek climbing 

 50,000 ft. through five states during 20 days. Their mission was to raise $500,000 to support the completion of Hesburgh Hospital in Santo Domingo, Ecuador where a third of the population live in extreme poverty.

The funds are being raised to construct the hospital; the additional funds will help to fully equip the hospital and support research and training programs. Cyclists and organizers encouraged others to make a donation to Andean Health & Development (AHD).

“The energy and support of this band of cyclists is inspiring,” says David Gaus, MD, co-founder and executive director of AHD. “Their efforts both on and off the road to raise these funds are helping us ensure that we can complete Hesburgh Hospital in a manner that meets one of our primary goals: to make the hospital self-sustainable for this rural community.”

Taking to the road in Skykomish, Washington on June 13, the cyclists were led by Michael Heisler, MD, MPH, chair of AHD’s advisory board. These cycling friends of Andean Health & Development included business men and women, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, students, doctors, nurses and many others. The peloton will make its way through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota to cross the finish line in Sioux Falls on July 4.

A closing ceremony in Sioux Falls took place on July 4, with much support from the local cycling community and city of Sioux Falls. Along the way, the group delivered small grant awards, Improving Rural Health in the Americas, to rural community clinics in Montana and South Dakota.

Two South Dakota clinics were selected for their innovative approaches to rural health care:

• Winner Regional Healthcare Center, Winner, SD: Thursday, July 2 o Caters to the health needs of south central South Dakota with its 25-bed critical access hospital and an 80-bed long-term care facility.

• Parkston USD FARM Program at Avera St. Benedict Health Center, Parkston, SD: Friday, July 3 o A program to increase the number of primary care physicians who practice in rural South Dakota.

“These small grants demonstrate AHD’s commitment to assisting rural health care delivery in the Americas,” said Heisler. “We know that there are many differences between Latin America and the rural communities of the northwestern United States and the Northern Plains, but we also know that many of the challenges are the same. We hope that our small contributions will help “shine the light” on creative efforts to provide quality rural health care in communities along our route.”