Kathryn M. Tschiegg, ’92, RN, 2022 Distinguished Citizen Award Recipient
“I served in the Peace Corps as a registered nurse then came back to the states. In 1989, I returned to Honduras to find conditions worsened, and shortly thereafter, I decided to really make an impact.”
Kathryn “Kathy” Tschiegg, ’92, RN, is the founder and executive director of Central American Medical Outreach (CAMO), a non-denominational, Christian-based, humanitarian organization that brings medical services, education and community development to Central America. CAMO provides more than 140,000 lifesaving services each year to impoverished people who otherwise would not have access to aid.
Kathy graduated from Kent State’s Stark Campus in 1992, and founded CAMO in 1993 after serving as a Peace Corps nurse at the Hospital de Occidente in Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras. During her time in the Peace Corps, Kathy realized a new healthcare model needed to be created. CAMO improves the quality of life of people in Central America by strengthening health services and promoting sustainable community development. CAMO-U.S.A., located in Orrville, Ohio, utilizes five staff members and hundreds of volunteers to secure medical donations and raise funds.
“I served in the Peace Corps as a registered nurse then came back to the states,” said Kathy. “In 1989, I returned to Honduras to find conditions worsened and shortly thereafter I decided to really make an impact, which I had been unable to do as an RN. I knew I would need to get business and administrative training, and I was already a professional going back for my second degree with the goal of creating something sustainable.”
Under Kathy’s leadership, approximately 2.9 million lives have been saved directly and indirectly as a result of CAMO’s 22 medical services including neurosurgery, ophthalmology, prosthetics and cervical cancer. CAMO trains hospital personnel in surgery, orthopedics, respiratory care, emergency care, nutrition and nursing protocols.
“CAMO is one of the highest humanitarian organizations I know, with 26 years helping very poor people in Honduras through professionalism, systemic change, community involvement and sustainability,” said Congressman Juan Carlos Elvir, a former CAMO-Honduras board member.
After observing death due to lack of CPR training, Kathy developed the first national training center for the American Heart Association in Honduras training 1,500 physicians, nurses and paramedics annually in CPR, and neonatal, pediatric and adult advanced life support within 15 of 18 states (departments) of Honduras.
Kathy has raised money for CAMO that invested nearly $4 million worth of capital improvements in Santa Rosa to combat crime and fear and promote a safe, equitable and healthy society. In 2014, she raised funds, designed and constructed the country’s second largest public health center serving 800 patients per day. CAMO’s biomedical department equips and maintains more than 200 pieces of equipment in the local hospital.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CAMO expanded and provided five additional hospitals with ventilators, BPap and respiratory supplies, saving thousands of lives. In 2008, she founded and built the largest women’s shelter in Central America with 44 beds, counseling and 24/7 protection. She reformed the abandoned trade school where more than 600 students per year attend.
Her enthusiasm, commitment and ability to thrive with integrity have brought many people to uphold the vision and mission of the organization. It is not and has never been about her - it has been about training others and providing infrastructure to care for their people wherever the need exists. Not only has this saved millions and enriched the lives of volunteers and professionals, but it also will enable the organization to go on in perpetuity.