Meet the patient: Eulalia Palomino - MEDLIFE

Meet the patient: Eulalia Palomino

In the slums of Pamplona Alta, getting from one place to another by foot is far different than for a person living on flat land. Many steep, slippery hills cover the landscape, making it a daily challenge to get from one place to another. The precarious stone steps that serve as a form of a staircase downhill lack railings or any form of support, increasing the risk of falling. The need for safe, constructed staircases is the most basic necessity, but one that greatly improves quality of life for people living in the hills.

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MEDLIFE combats this issue prevalent to Lima by constructing staircases throughout the hills in the area. Did you ever wonder how we de­­cide where to build our next staircase? Our journey with Eulalia Palomino is a perfect example of this process:

Eulalia Rodriguez Palomino first met MEDLIFE when she visited a mobile clinic in February 2014. She took advantage of the free medical services MEDLIFE offers at the clinics and was given a pap smear. After some time, Eulalia received her pap smear result from the MEDLIFE nurses—it was positive. Eulalia had known there was an issue because she was often in pain, but it was only after her consultation with the MEDLIFE doctors that she found out she needed a hysterectomy. She was frightened for her health, but she had the operation and it went smoothly.

Upon leaving the hospital, Eulalia’s doctor instructed her to not have any sexual relations for at least four months, time the internal wound would need to properly heal.

Eulalia, like many of the people who live in the outskirts of Lima, migrated to the capital city from the rural Andes region, and still lives by traditional Andean culture. Part of the culture is the belief that women belong to their husbands. Sexual intercourse is seen as one of the ways to reinforce the machismo role, and Eulalia’s husband did not want to abide by the doctor’s orders.

As a result, a painful infection grew that required additional medical attention, otherwise it could spread and spiral into a much more serious issue. Eulalia’s husband decided he did not want to deal with his wife’s medical obstacles or caring for their three children, so he left them to fend for themselves at a time when they needed his support the most.

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Eulalia now lives with her children up in the hills, a lifestyle that has proved extremely difficult for her, as she was suffering from a painful recovery and an infection. Eulalia’s current home does not have running water and has limited electricity. To make their situation worse, she and her children must walk a significant distance in order to reach a potable water source, where they fill their buckets at the stations to use for the day.

MEDLIFE supported Eulalia with all of her medical expenses related to her hysterectomy, but our support does not stop there. After learning more about Eulalia and her story, we realized her need stretches much further than medical attention. Though Eulalia was recently confronted with this medical obstacle, her family faces additional danger every day when they risk their safety and walk along treacherous paths near their home—just to access water.

We want to continue supporting Eulalia by building a staircase, a safe way to come and go from her home. You can be a part of Eulalia’s story and help build her a staircase here.