Feast of Saint Luke Honors Legacy of Beloved Loyola Professor

Loyola’s legacy in Bolivia 

It’s not an easy journey to the Centro Médico Humberto Parra (CHMP). Located in the eastern Bolivian rainforest, down muddy roads and patchwork bridges, the clinic is the only medical facility in the surrounding 40,000-person area. Every year, more than 3,000 people travel to CHMP for clinic visits, surgical campaigns, anti-parasite programs, and emergency care. The clinic has three exam rooms, a treatment room, dental suite, ophthalmology suite, laboratory, small pharmacy, classroom, and a small children's library.  

It's also one of the most enduring legacies of the late Dr. Susan Hou, who co-founded it in 2001, alongside her husband, Dr. Mark Molitch, and Bolivian endocrinologist Dr. Douglas Villaroel. For over a decade, Stritch has partnered with CHMP, sending faculty and resident volunteers to Bolivia to care for patients, as well as students who learn and assist with care coordination. Eight years ago, the short-term trips evolved into a year-long fellowship program. 

“Students sought a longer-term experience because they value sustainability and want to provide a true benefit,” says Dr. Amy Blair, director of Stritch’s Center for Community and Global Health. “We created the fellowship to provide that opportunity. Since then, students have helped start or build projects for the clinic and the community. They’ve left their mark on the clinic and the clinic has left its mark on students.” 

“Never did I see her waver from her human rights approach to global health," says Blair. "She really embodied the social justice mission we talk about and practice at Loyola.”

Unlike other medical study abroad programs, the Bolivian clinic expects students to not only shadow doctors and treat patients, but also understand its operations, including how to manage a limited number of resources. For Bolivian fellow and fourth-year medical student Andrea Escobar, experiencing the administration side of health care reinforced her career path in medicine. “I want to be involved in primary care and hospitalist medicine with both adults and children. Being in Bolivia helped solidify that for me,” she says.

In addition to Escobar, the clinic has left a lasting impact on hundreds of students and improved the lives of even more people who live in the surrounding community. It's also why Stritch recognized the clinic with the Jack MacCarthy Service in Medicine Award in 2019. While the award committee intended to present the award to Hou, after she passed, they chose to honor her life’s work instead.  

“Never did I see her waver from her human rights approach to global health," says Blair. "She really embodied the social justice mission we talk about and practice at Loyola.” From the remote village of Palacios to the urban landscape of Maywood, her memory lingers in both communities, reflecting the legacy she leaves behind. 


  Following Dr. Hou’s passing, Loyola plans to keep her work alive, through its partnership with the Centro Médico Humberto Parra, Ignatian Service Immersion trips, and its Bolivian Fellowship. Learn more about the Bolivian Fellowship and how to apply.  Let's Get Started