Sol de Vida Rehabilitation Clinic: Cubans and Colibris in Cotacachi

Ed Note: Sol de Vida Rehabilitation Clinic was written by Linda in 2007. After the Mayoral election in 2007, the new mayor changed the name and all of the personnel at the facility. It was closed for a while, then re-opened. As of July, 2012, the facility still is operating, but less focused than before. The Cuban doctors are no longer there. The primary physician, Dr. Andrade, opened up his own private homeopathic office on 10 de Agosto below the market. It is called Cruz Andina.

What does Sol de Vida, a rehabilitation clinic in Cotacachi, Ecuador, have in common with colibris and Cubans?  These two seemingly disparate elements are an integral part of Sol de Vida, an amazing healing center in the small Ecuador town of Cotacachi, high in the mountains north of Quito, where great things are happening.

There’s a charming legend told here about a great fire that was decimating everything in this sector of Ecuador.  All the animals were fleeing for their lives.  Then the colibris (Spanish for hummingbirds) banded together to save the day by putting out the fire.  

They sped back and forth, each with water in his beak, patiently putting out the flames a few drops at a time.  The colibri symbolizes hope, renewal and rehabilitation.  It’s no accident that “Sol de Vida,” a physical and mental rehabilitation clinic that opened in Cotacachi on April 1, 2005, chose the hummingbird as its symbol.
Sol de Vida is a space for human development.  It promotes health for children, adolescents and adults in all ways--through prevention of illness and disease, education, treatment, rehabilitation and recuperation.  Its goal is to make a major contribution to a better quality of human life.

Free of Pain After 10 Years of Suffering

The treatments at Sol de Vida are exceptionally successful in the areas of pain relief and pain management.  After only 20 treatments at Sol de Vida, a friend from Canada was free of excruciating pain for the first time in ten years.  

Constant leg and lower back pain from fibromyalgia had severely diminished her quality of life.  Just walking up stairs had become a painful and difficult ordeal. The relief from pain that she received last year after treatment at the rehabilitation clinic is one of the major reasons she returned to Cotacachi.  Read Joanne's story here.

Gary had a biking accident, dislocating his left shoulder in a fall while barreling down a steep cobblestone hill out in the countryside.  After x-rays, medication and bandaging, he was told by two allopathic doctors that he would need 3 to 6 weeks of  immobilization, keeping his arm tightly wrapped against his torso.  He decided to visit Sol de Vida.

There he was given a series of treatments which took about an hour each time.  He received about 7 minutes of laser therapy in one room.  

Next, he had 20 minutes of electrotherapy in another room of the rehabilitation clinic while lying on his stomach with electrical nodes on his bare shoulder.  At the same time, the doctor directed the heat of an infrared lamp at his shoulder.  
Onda Corta, or Short Wave, treatment was next, using a Shortwave SN-180 ITO for about 10 minutes.  Then a nurse assisted him with physiotherapy in another room.  She directed him through a 15-minute cycle of arm and shoulder exercises to restore flexibility and movement.

Gary had 10 sessions over a 2-week period and is mobile again, able to use his computer, type, ride his bike and even help in the kitchen!  He was out of the sling in two weeks!  

All of this for the sum of $2 USD per session!

The treatments at Sol de Vida cut his healing time in half and quickly restored his ability to move his arm freely.  We are both very happy with the clinic’s service.  Not only is the price unbelievable, the service is very good and the staff is considerate, gentle and caring.

Where Do the Cubans Fit In?

The clinic has employed Cuban doctors for some time.  There are ten new Cuban doctors due to arrive at the Cotacachi hospital in January, ’08.  One may be a physical therapist who will work at Sol de Vida.  In the past Cuban doctors have worked at Sol de Vida with great success.

They are highly trained and as a whole, considered by the local community to be more interested in social development than in making money.  The city of Cotacachi pays for their room and board and a small salary.  Many of them send their wages back to Cuba to support their families.  

The Doctors Have a Common Vision 

The rehabilitation clinic tends to attract doctors with a similar vision of selfless service.  In fact, the clinic’s new nutritional program is the result of a common vision among a majority of the people of Cotacachi, who, every year in November, come together from all over the province to engage in their particular form of participatory democracy. 

About one thousand people meet for two or three days—individuals as well as group leaders, locals and also interested foreigners---to discuss matters ranging from education and health to tourism and motherhood.  

The people want good health and good health care for all those living in the area.  They agreed that good nutrition is a key to good health.

So for 8 months last year, in an effort to realize the community’s desires for health, the clinic used radio ads to raise public awareness about the importance of good nutrition for children 0-9 years of age and for pregnant women.  Jorge Pazmino, director of the nutritional programs at Sol de Vida, and his wife Pamela Baez, the rehabilitation clinic nutritionist, wrote the ads and also created a series of skits to present in different settings. 

Then at this year’s community meeting, the people decided that the promotional aspect had been completed and they wanted more action taken.  Jorge and Pamela have big plans to create nutritional programs.
Read more. . .

The rehabilitation clinic’s administrator, Marcelo Pinto, left a lucrative job in Ibarra, a nearby city, where he worked as a financial accountant.  Most of his extended family resides in Cotacachi and he was driving back and forth often to visit them.  

The stress he experienced during his thirteen years in that position took its toll.  He was often sick, nervous and anxious.  The solution to his work problems finally dawned and now he is a changed man.  Read more. . .

The Doctors Need Our Help

The rehabilitation clinic was originally funded through a grant from several foundations and the city government.  That funding is now depleted.  There is enough money for operational costs but not enough to cover maintenance and facility upgrades.  While the center’s goal is to be self-supporting, that goal has not yet been reached.  

The clinic’s pool, a hot tub, steam room, sauna and weight room are open for public use on weekends at a small fee ($3.00) in order to raise more capital for the Sol de Vida rehabilitation clinic.  In addition, the low doctor fees may soon need to be raised unless other sources of funding can be found.

Any ideas?  Contact us if you feel moved to help the clinic in any way.    

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