Erica McElroy, D.O.
Founder and Executive Director
Erica has a passion for helping people. She has been serving the rural communities of central Pennsylvania as an Emergency Medicine physician through the Geisinger Health System since 2005. Erica has spent many years involved in medical mission work abroad, beginning her work in Guatemala 16 years ago, and spending four years organizing and conducting medical missions partnered with Show Hope in China, which provided greatly needed surgeries for medical needs orphans. Erica began working on the Casa Materna Project two years ago when the Christ Wesleyan Church, who has worked in the region for almost 20 years, approached her regarding the local need for improved pregnancy and delivery care in the region. Using the proven methods of the Curamericas Casa Maternas in northwest Guatemala, she began the development of a Casa Materna in San Juan la Laguna in 2015. She lives in Danville, PA with her husband and four children.
Jessica Oliveira, MSPA, PA-C
Co-founder and Medical Director
Jessica is currently a Family Medicine Physician Assistant at FIU Herbert Wertheim’s College of Medicine, working in a community health program with uninsured vulnerable populations in South Florida. She received her M.S. in Medical Education/Physician Assistant Studies at Seton Hall University and will receive her Doctorate in Medical Sciences Dec 2019. She has been practicing Family Medicine and Obstetrics/Gynecology since 2007. Her specific interest has always been in global community health development with a focus on household centered care and health literacy. Jessica Oliveira has been an advocate for women globally and has worked abroad as a medical volunteer with Medical Mission Group, Basic Health International and Saving Mothers. She has been the Director of Guatemala for Saving Mothers since 2008 and developed the curriculum for and founded the Saving Mothers’ School of PowHER (Providing Outreach in Women’s Health and Educational Resources) for Maternal Health. The goal of the School of PowHER is to provide traditional Mayan birth attendants with focused skills and education to provide a more complete maternal health care while respecting local customs and focusing on appropriate obstetric referral as the key to decreasing maternal death and complications in the region. Jessica is also the Medial Director and Co-founder of the Casa Materna San Juan La Laguna, a local birthing center run by Saving Mother’s School of PowHER graduates from the community.
Erica Miller, RN, BSN
Clinical Staff Educator
Erica is a Labor and Delivery Nurse who serves as an on-site educator to the clinical staff. Erica is passionate about working with the perinatal population and loves being involved with the Casa Materna. She first visited Guatemala as a nursing student with the University of Wisconsin and quickly fell in love with the people, culture, landscape and vibrant colors of Guatemala. She has since returned several times as a volunteer with various organizations and is excited to help support the Casa Materna in providing affordable and accesible obstetrical care to the beautiful Lake Atitlan communities. When not in Guatemala, Erica is a travel Nurse in the U.S. and loves exploring the new cities she lands in.
Casey MacDermod ,B.A. Cultural Anthropology
In-Country Director of Operations/Team Coordinator
Casey first came to the lake area of Guatemala in 2016 and has been coming back ever since. She has a B.A. from Duke University, where she studied cultural anthropology and global health with a focus on Indigenous populations. Through her university and with the support of local NGOs, she has conducted three health-focused investigations and pilot interventions with Mayan mothers in San Juan’s neighboring municipality of Santa Cruz. Before joining Casa Materna, she filmed a documentary on community organizing and tourism in San Juan. Casey is passionate about Indigenous and maternal health, rights, and education and is excited to be a part of Casa Materna.
Our newest member of the team began learning about midwifery at age 15 by helping her mom who is a comadrona. Melina completed her training as a professional midwife in Mexico in 2015 where she worked for over two years in hospital and home birth settings. She is interested in aromatherapy and homeopathic practices and has shared that knowledge with the team. She will be working at the Casa in San Juan as well as helping to establish a new Casa Materna in Camotan. She lives with her parents and 6 siblings in Chichicastenango.
Merlyn is a native of San Juan and spent several years working for the municipal government as administrative assistant to the mayor in the department of women’s rights. She has been instrumental in engaging the community and bringing awareness to the need of maternal/child care in this region of the country. She has also completed the San Juan School of POWHER conducted by Saving Mothers and will be our community educator.
A local of San Juan, Lesbia has been working for 8 years as a comadrona (midwife). She graduated from an auxiliary nurse program in the San Jose School in Santa Clara, Guatemala, in 2010, and in 2014 and 2016 she completed the San Juan School of POWHER conducted by Saving Mothers. She has worked in a San Juan clinic doing prenatal care, and has attended most of her clients’ births in their homes. She has a passion to help her community and the other communities of this region, especially those of the lowest resourses in the most remote areas of Guatemala. She has been instrumental in establishing the clinic facility and engaging with the community.
Johana Oneida Alvarez Cholotio
In 2015 Johana graduated from high school and in 2016 began a five-year nursing program in the Universidad Panamericana. In March 2106 she completed the course of Helping Babies Breathe and in July was a teaching assistant in this course. She completed the Saving Mothers School of POWHER in May 2016 and now works in the prenatal clinic at the Casa and as a birthing assistant. Johana lives in San Juan with her parents and two sisters.
Wendy is a San Juan local. In 2011 she graduated highschool and in March 2016 she completed the course of Helping Babies Breathe. In May 2016 she completed the Saving Mothers School of POWHER and is now a birthing assistant at the Casa and works in the prenatal clinic and in health education. She lives with her husband and daughter.
Lesly joined the Casa team as a birth assistant in August 2018. She graduated high school in 2014 and started nursing school in 2018. She also completed the Saving Mothers School of POWHER in 2018. Before becoming a full-time assistant at the Casa Materna, Lesly was facilitator in San Juan and San Pablo and did post-partum visits for Casa patients. Lesly is local to San Juan and enjoys reading in her free time.
Chusita Criado De Coxaj
Chusita completed the Saving Mothers School of Power in 2018 and is a nursing student since 2016. She joined the Casa Materna team in August 2018. Chusita lives in San Pedro with her husband and daughter that was born at the Casa Materna in 2018.
Joel worked as a nurse and paramedic for the Guatemala Ministry of Health for 26 years and is an experienced birth attendant. In 2006 he became certified as a volunteer firefighter. He has been trained in reproductive health and in high risk obstetric care and protocols. He is now a birthing assistant at the Casa and works in the prenatal clinic.
Joel also completed a two-year Bible school and is an active member in his church. He lives in San Juan with his wife, near his children and grandchildren.
Logistics & General Projects Manager
Originally from Honduras with a background in international business, marketing, and biblical studies, Kennet functiones as the jack-of-all trades for the Casa, such as social media, general maintenance, and hosting short-term teams.