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Hispanic Health News

Central America’s First Children’s Burn Hospital Gets Support from U.S. Health Organizations

Central America’s First Children’s Burn Hospital Gets Support from U.S. Health Organizations

Photo: Central America's First Children's Burn Hospital Opens

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Crowds of politicians, patients and physicians gathered on the grounds of the Leonardo Martinez Hospital in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, last week to celebrate the inauguration of Central America’s first, and only, children’s burn hospital: Hospital para Ninos Quemados y Cirugia Pediatrica Ruth Paz. The ceremony was a milestone event for healthcare both in Honduras and in Central America. The facility’s establishment was made possible in part by equipment donations from Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) and by Heineman Medical Research, Inc., of Charlotte (Heineman).

“It is a privilege for Carolinas HealthCare System to contribute to a project of such magnitude and to provide necessary resources to communities that need it most,” said Dr. James McDeavitt, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of CHS. “We are excited we could help ensure the health and well-being of children in Honduras and for the opportunity to build and foster strong relationships with healthcare systems in Central America.”

More than 80 percent of the burn hospital’s equipment, such as patient beds, operating room tables, monitors and ventilators, was donated by CHS and Heineman. The equipment would have cost more than $800,000 if purchased new. CHS and Heineman received recognition at the inauguration from Victor Hugo Barnica, Vice President of Honduras, Dr. Arturo Bendana, Minister of Health, Juan Carlos Zuniga, Mayor of San Pedro Sula, and Mary Ann Kafati de la Paz, President of the Ruth Paz Foundation.  The Charlotte delegation attending the event was led by CHS Vice President James Olsen.

CHS and Heineman leaders came up with the idea for the donations in 2009 after CHS announced it would replace its Lincolnton hospital with a new building in 2010. When Dr. Francis Robicsek, President of Heineman, learned that the hospital’s obsolete equipment would be kept in storage, he proposed shipping it to San Pedro Sula, where the equipment could be put to use almost immediately.

The children’s burn institute will provide care for burn patients by restoring their physical and emotional health. It is comprised of several units, including one for pediatric surgery, one for burn care, a play room, a chapel and a recovery room. The pediatric surgery unit expects to treat more than 1,600 patients each year and the burn unit expects to treat more than 160 patients each year. The surgical unit will also alleviate the 12-month waiting period for pediatric surgeries, common in Honduran public hospitals. 

The Ruth Paz Foundation for the Children of Honduras, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children, built the hospital on the Leonardo Martinez Hospital campus property donated by the Honduran government. CHS and Heineman concentrated their efforts on furnishing it, and numerous local foundations and organizations provided monetary gifts. The facility will service the entire country and beyond, and it will be open to patients regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

Heineman, in partnership with Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, has a four-decade-long history of providing medical assistance to underdeveloped countries. Over the past three years alone, with the help of Duke Kimbrell, a Gastonia industrialist, and led by Dr. Robicsek, Heineman also installed an up-to-date 14-bed Pediatric Intensive Care and Heart Catheterization Laboratory in San Pedro Sula. These projects have greatly increased access to healthcare throughout Honduras and have helped save hundreds of lives.