Introduction: In October 2005, Hurricane Stan impacted Central America, causing severe damage to Guatemala. The main objectives of this study are to report on the effects of Hurricane Stan in rural Guatemala, to assess the responses of a rural clinic during and after the storm, and to identify ways in which the clinic can better prepare for future disasters. The clinic is located in Catarina, San Marcos, Guatemala. Roughly 400–500 patients are attended to each week at the clinic.
Methods: Survey data were obtained during a two-week period using a convenience sample of people at the clinic and in the surrounding community.
Results: The major medical problems after the impact of Hurricane Stan included fungal infections, upper respiratory infections, diarrhea, and emotional problems. The most needed supplies included food, electricity, home repair, potable water, communication, and clothing. In the immediate aftermath of event, 61% of the participants could not get to a hospital; however, most did not require medical assistance.
Conclusions: Hurricane Stan had a devastating effect on the San Marcos region of Guatemala. While the clinic could have served as a resource center and a base, it was not prepared to address the community's health needs after the hurricane as there were no previous plans in place for disaster response for the clinic or for the community. Next steps include developing a preparedness plan to utilize the clinic as a local resource center , in the event that the planned national disaster responses are delayed or unable to reach the affected area.