Capelle brings health services to Guatemala

Nancy Capelle, of Wilton, will travel to Guatemala this October to take part in a week-long service trip.

Capelle, an EMT at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, will be stationed near Xela, Guatemala’s second-largest city, with a population of 225,000. Xela is surrounded by rural communities whose inhabitants have limited access to health services due to high costs, language and cultural barriers, and distance from a clinic or hospital.

“I’m looking forward to being able to interact one-on-one with the villagers,” Capelle told The Bulletin. “While I’m there, I want to do the best I can to help them.”

Providing health care access to those in need is important to Capelle, who suffered a heart attack and cardiac arrest at the age of 40. After she recovered, Capelle dedicated her pursuits to medicine, becoming a Connecticut State Certified Emergency Medicine Technician and starting Cardiac Companion, LLC, through which she conducts private CPR instruction and certification for people of all ages.

“We’re so lucky to live in such a developed country,” Capelle said. “No one should think that everyone in the world lives just like we do in Wilton. People in places like Guatemala don’t have access to basic services we take for granted, like dentistry and pediatrics. It’s important to share the resources we have.”

In preparation for her trip, Capelle has begun receiving vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B as well as typhoid fever. Because she will be stationed above 2,500 feet, she won’t have to worry as much about malaria or related diseases since mosquitoes aren’t as active at higher altitudes.

Capelle will be travelling with Timmy Global Health, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that encourages students and volunteers to participate in overcoming international health challenges. By strengthening the capacity of local health systems through short-term medical service programs and long-term health solutions, the organization aims to give people — regardless of resources or living conditions — access to medical assistance.

Medical teams return to partner sites like Xela every two to three months, maintain records, and ensure patients have the care they require. After teams depart, patients still have access to medicine, remain in contact with a community health worker, and receive surgeries and hospital care.

Capelle is curious to see how villagers in Xela live. “No experience compares to going somewhere and putting yourself in the situation of local people,” she said.

To learn more about the trip and donate to Capelle’s GoFundMe campaign, visit