Operating room recovery nurse Ann Critelli was on last year’s mission to Santa Marta as well, and says that’s about the number of patients they saw over five days in 2009. This mission is more intense, with team members working for 16-18 hours, instead of the 12-hour days of the last trip, she said.
“These cases, we’re doing more intense cases that are doing more in the OR and more in the recovery,” she said.
One such intense case Thursday involved one pre-teen girl with what doctors thought would be a simple removal of a large growth above her lip. But once the operation began, they discovered that it was pure bone, and had to spend four hours operating and drilling to grind it down.
Critelli’s most memorable case this year, she said, involved a 12-year-old boy with a cleft palate. His mother had died when he was three, and his father left him and his two brothers. The boys are being raised by their grandmother, who said the one thing their mother had wanted was to have her son’s palate fixed.