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Petén Health is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2017 to support El Programa de Salud Comunitaria, the community-based rural health care program in Petén, Guatemala. This program, in which community members receive the training and equipment necessary to address remote villages' health needs, has been steadily growing since 2002. Motivated by a nearly complete lack of medical services in the area, the program now has over 40 fully trained community health workers and serves an area populated by 60,000 rural Guatemalans.

Community health workers supported by Petén Health volunteer to participate in a three-year training program, in which they learn to diagnose and treat a multitude of health problems. When fully trained, they are able to help with infectious diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia, chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, and emergencies such as lacerations and snake bites. Their work provides affordable, local care, and helps their neighbors avoid long, costly and risky journeys in search of medical services.

Petén Health provided the finances and technical support for El Programa's Casa de Salud. The campus includes classrooms, dormitories, and a kitchen for community health workers who travel long distances to be trained, in addition to a new clinic with medical and dental treatment rooms and an emergency room. The clinic opened on February 28, 2020. Working together, in an outpouring of support from donors and friends from all over the world, Petén Health achieved this first major milestone to secure health care for impoverished Guatemalans two years ahead of schedule.

Bringing medicines to the village


Kate Feibusch, M.D., M.P.H. is a family physician who lived and worked in Guatemala, training community health workers for 12 years. She now works at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa, California and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Touro University. She has two daughters, both of whom were born in Guatemala.

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Kelly Pfeifer, M.D. has been on Petén Health's board since it was established. She currently works in the California State Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) as the deputy director of mental health and substance use disorder services. She has long been a supporter of the community health workers in Petén.

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Kathryn Cirksena, Ph.D. Since the inception of Petén Health, Kathy has worked on communications like the website and newsletter, and joined the board in October of 2018. She retired as a research manager from Kaiser Permanente, following a 20-year career of teaching and research in communication. 

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