by Dr. Gregory Bartha

July 2, 2018

“I want one moment in time when I’m more than I thought I could be.” These are the words of the song sung by Whitney Houston for the 1988 Olympics. It is Susie Mauldin’s favorite song. It inspired her when she heard it then, and it is an apt description of her character now.

Susie is the new director of the Belize Hospital and Palliative Care Foundation, taking over from Dr. Beatrice Thompson, who is on a leave of absence. The organization has been in a very disorganized state, and Susie is trying to restore order, and institute good record keeping and accountability.

Five years ago, she would never have believed she would be doing what she is now. She had no desire to leave Midland and no idea of moving to a foreign country to work. Then, with the encouragement of Vicki Jay, former director of the Rays of Hope Organization associated with Hospice of Midland, she went to a conference in Belize on grief. By chance, she met Dr. Beatrice Thompson who told her this story.

Dr. Thompson was leaving work at the Karl Heusner Hospital in Belize City. She saw a woman sitting on a street curb looking completely despondent. She asked the woman what her problem was. The lady said that she had advanced breast cancer. She was now destitute after selling all her property and possessions to have surgery and several chemotherapy treatments. She had a large open wound on her chest which would not heal and which she covered with a piece of carpet and duct tape. Her doctor told her that he would no longer see her because she had no money. Dr. Thompson assured her that the Hospice group would help her. When Susie heard this story, she knew she had to come to Belize to work with people like this lady who were suffering with cancer and other complicated medical problems. She got all her affairs in order and one and a half years later moved to Belize.

The transition has not been easy for her. She had little help finding a good place to live, and little help in completing all the paperwork requirements for residence in Belize. Finally, she managed to find a pleasant place to live and has made many friends since she started working at Belize Hospice and Palliative Care as director of volunteer services. She found the organization to be very chaotic with no records of equipment lent out, no volunteer time sheets, no documentation of volunteer visits, and an incomplete patient list.

She is making a great effort to correct these deficiencies. She has also gotten the oxygen concentrators checked out and made operational, and has developed a plan to ensure that the hospital beds lent out are properly assembled and are in good working order. She has a core of four to five dedicated volunteers to help her. Also, Dr. David Murillo is volunteering on a part-time basis. He is a graduate of the Latin American Medical School in Cuba and is well-trained in general medicine.

Susie is a remarkable person. After she visits the home, she assesses the needs very quickly and is on the phone finding out what resources are available to solve the problem. She has arranged to get ramps built at the home of paralyzed patients, and outside bathroom constructed for a quadriplegic, and has brought food and medical supplies to families who are destitute. The energy, kindness and compassion she shows on a daily basis are amazing.

Susie told me this story. Veronica, a close neighbor of hers, has four children ages five, four, three and one. Her husband is a policeman. They live in a small home and their yard was completely trashed out. One day while working in her yard, Susie heard nonstop whimpering coming from that direction. She went to investigate and found a large emaciated dog chained to a tree. The family had apparently left on a long trip. She took water to the dog. It drank a full gallon and then ate a large amount of food which Susie brought. The dog loved Susie after her second visit. She continued the watering and feeding for two more weeks until the family returned.

Susie heard a message from God – “You took care of the dog, but what are you doing for the family?” She hired a crew to clean up the yard and paid for trash pickup for six months. One of the yard cleaners liked the dog and got permission to take it home. She invited Veronica and her children to a coloring party in her home. It was wild – paper and crayons thrown everywhere. Susie has continued her friendship with Veronica and her children. She has also hosted several hot dog parties for other neighborhood children and pays the young boys to do cleanup work around the area.

Susie is most certainly the Good Samaritan in the fullest Biblical sense. And referring back to the Olympic song, she is more than she thought she could be in many moments every day.

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