Who We Are
Centro Médico Susan Hou is a community medical clinic located in the rain forest in eastern Bolivia, 72 miles outside of Santa Cruz, the largest city in the country.
Our goal is to improve the health and overall quality of life of the surrounding communities by providing first-rate medical care and other health services. It is the only free medical clinic in the surrounding 40,000 person area.
The Daniels Hamant Foundation of River Forest, IL funds and helps manage Centro Médico. The Daniels Hamant Foundation relies exclusively on private donations, and the Centro Médico Susan Hou is heavily dependent on volunteer physicians and healthcare workers from the US and Bolivia.
With the support of dedicated volunteers and private funding, Centro Médico has been able to attend to the population’s medical needs since its inception. Thanks to supporters like you, our program has been able to grow immensely since the beginning. When we started, we did not even have electricity!
Now every month students and residents from the Medical Schools of Loyola, Northwestern and other universities in the U.S. and other countries elect to do a for-credit rotation at the clinic. This gives them the chance to learn about Bolivian culture, healthcare, and diseases typical to the region, while providing invaluable medical care.
Our major goals at CMSH are to:
- Improve the health and overall quality of life of the surrounding communities by providing continuous, first-rate, free healthcare.
- Engage the people in their healthcare through public health education and projects.
- Provide our volunteers with the chance to learn about Bolivian culture and healthcare practices first-hand, so that they may share their experiences and lessons with the greater medical community and promote international health.
The clinic began as Centro Médico Humberto Parra and was the realization of the dream of Dr. Douglas Villarroel, a Bolivian Endocrinologist, and Dr. Susan Hou, who was a Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Renal Transplant Program at Loyola University Medical Center. After opening in 2001, the clinic hired Maria Cespedes and soon the staff were seeing 100 patients a day every weekend and were able to provide free medicine to Bolivians in need.
The clinic increased it’s operational days to four days a week and hired a full time clinic director, Dr. Vargas. We now serve more than 3000 patients a year.
The clinic was renamed in 2019 to Centro Médico Susan Hou upon the passing of it’s founder.
Centro Médico facilities include a medical clinic and volunteer residence. The clinic has three exam rooms, an infirmary/treatment room, a dental suite, an ophthalmology suite, a laboratory, a small pharmacy, a classroom with internet access and a small children’s library. The volunteer residence has Wi-Fi Internet access, five air-conditioned bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room, a screened-in porch and 3 bathrooms with hot showers.