AH 1500 Travels through Plains

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

The Andean Health 1500 campaign expects to raise $500,000; rural health clinics in the Northwestern Plains along the ride to recognized.

June 3, 2015; Madison, Wis. – On June 13, 30 dedicated cyclists will embark on the Andean Health 1500-­-mile trek climbing 50,000 ft. through five states during 20 days. Their mission is 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. To date, more than $4 million has been raised to construct the hospital; the additional funds will help to fully equip the hospital and support research and training programs. 

With only 10 more days to kick-­-off, the group has raised $400,000 toward the goal of $500,000. Cyclists and organizers encourage others to help bring in the last $100,000 by making a donation to Andean Health & Development (AHD).  All contributors are tax-­-deductible and will be recognized during and after the ride.

“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 will be led by Michael Heisler, MD, MPH, chair of AHD’s advisory board. These cycling friends of Andean Health & Development will include 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. 

An opening ceremony and fundraising event will take place in Seattle on June 12. Another fundraiser will take place in Hayden Lake when the group arrives on June 14. A closing ceremony in Sioux Falls will take place on July 4, with much support from the local cycling community and city of Sioux Falls. 

Along the way, the group will deliver small grant awards, Improving Rural Health in the Americas, to rural community clinics in Montana and South Dakota. Four clinics or rural health programs have been selected for their innovative approaches to rural health care: 

  • Clark Fork Valley Hospital, Plains, MT: Thursday, June 18

Delivers excellence in customer service, professional growth and fiscal health and is the premier employer and the health care provider of choice in Sanders County.

  • Northern Cheyenne Tribal Board of Health, Lame Deer, MT: Friday, June 26

Specializes in alcohol and drug addiction counseling and mental/emotional health therapy. Provides a wide range of critical public health nursing services, support services for diabetes patients, cancer patients, as well as education and prevention services.

  • Winner Regional Healthcare Center, Winner, SD: Thursday, July 2

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

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.”

About AHD

Andean Health & Development (AHD) is changing the health and well---being of the poor in rural Ecuador by providing quality medical care based on an innovative and proven model of local self---sustainability that can be replicated throughout Latin America. What distinguishes the organization from others is that AHD is the only rural health provider in Latin America that delivers quality care based on a proven model of self---sufficiency and capacity building. AHD offers the only residency program that trains rural family physicians —where local faculty train Ecuadorian physicians to work in their own communities. AHD’ unique model for financial sustainability is based on strong local partnerships and keeping costs low.

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