Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Greetings from...

... Lima, Peru!

This is Seta, your friendly neighborhood blogger, coming at you whenever and wherever there is reliable internet access (hence the delay).

Day 1: On our way to the hospital

Today is the team’s third day in Lima. Speaking of the team, let me introduce our fabulous crew:

Our volunteer surgical team, lead by Dr. Manoj Abraham of Poughkeepsie, NY and 17 of his colleagues are screening and surgically treating over 30 children with cleft lips and palates and other facial deformities.

Joining Dr. Abraham - facial plastic, ENT are:

John Bortz, MD - ocularplastic

Lianne Deserres, MD Pediatric ENT

Doug Borg, MD anesthesia

Augustine Moscatell, MD ENT

JP Grimaldos, MD anesthesia

Oscar Fimbres, CRNA

Wayne Martin, MD anesthesia

Mosses Bairamian, MD anesthesia

Debbie Fritz, RN

Amber Isdell, RN

Chikela Cody, CST

David Fenner, MD Pediatrics

Elaine Suderio Tirone, RN

Tamara Faublas, Rn

Kerry Lynn, Assistant

Seta Bairamian, Assistant

Dana Buffin, administrator

Our team of volunteer medical professionals are working in the Hospital Nacional de Sergio E Bernales with the support and assistance of the local surgeons, hospital staff and two local Rotary Clubs.

The team is prepared to provide surgical treatment to 30 or more children suffering from facial deformities, mostly cleft lips and palates and will make a presentation to the Head and Neck Association of Lima.

This is the first time this team will work in this location in Lima. We look forward to developing a positive relationship that will permit our volunteers to return year after year to treat the local children and to exchange techniques and knowledge with the local medical professionals.

Recap Time.

Day 1: “The Day Our Luggage Got Stuck in Customs”

Our first day at Sergio E. Bernales National Hospital began with a warm welcome from the hospital's president, Dr. Pablo Rivera, as well as our on-site host supervising physician, Dr. Landa and his medical team of local doctors and nurses.

Dr. Pablo Rivera welcomes HTCNE

Dr. Abraham and Dr. Deserres screening a patient

Half of our team went on to prepare the operating rooms with the supplies we had while Dana, our trip coordinator, waited patiently at the airport for the rest of our medications and supplies to make it through customs (which proved to be a long and difficult task). The other half of the physicians and nurses gathered in the pediatric clinic and screened 14 patients, all of whom will be operated on in the coming week. The team is also prepared to screen any additional patients that may arrive throughout the week.

Some of the children are just a few months old, some are old enough to take advantage of the coloring books we’re giving out, and some are teenagers. All are accompanied by moms, dads, siblings, aunts, and uncles. Walking down the hallway of the pediatric clinic, when you look into every room you see a gaggle of relatives crowded around the hospital bed of their child. It’s amazing. We will also have enough time and supplies to work on some adults in need of facial reconstructive plastic surgery, so our patients really are from all walks of life. The journeys of the patients and their families are incredible. Some of them traveled over a day by bus to be seen by the team.

Day 2: “The Day Our Baggage was Still Stuck,” or, “The First Day of Surgeries”

Today we woke up bright and early for our 45-minute bus ride to Comas, the section of Lima where the hospital is located. Comas is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lima.

Dana did an awesome job retrieving our luggage full of essential medications and instruments, which then had to be screened by the hospital. Since this is our first mission to this location so we anticipated we would spend some time ironing out details and communicating with our Peruvian colleagues. But the rest team still managed to get the surgeries started relatively on schedule.

Assistant Kerri meticulously organized all the medical supplies as they came in after passing their inspections. We have a big room for our suitcases that are overflowing with bags and bundles of everything from sutures to stuffed animals. Dr. Bortz, ocular plastic surgeon, Dr. Bairamian, anesthesiologist, and Dr. Moscatello did five cases (back to back!). Most were eyelid and eyebrow revisions on adults. Some residents from Sergio E. Bernales Hospital sat in on these surgeries and Dr. Bortz explained the procedures. They were finished with the surgeries by the late afternoon and Dr. Bortz headed off to give a presentation to physicians in another local hospital and he and Dr. Bairamian were lucky enough to enjoy dinner with several Peruvian physicians.

The rest of the team spent the evening continuing to repair lips and palates on infants and children between 3 months and 8 years old, removing a cyst from the forehead of an infant, and investigating a mass on the neck of a 4-year old girl (which turned out to be benign).

The little ones were rolled one by one out of the operating rooms and into the recovery room, which was expertly decorated by our recovery nurses, Elaine and Tamara. Once the children were adequately recovered, their mothers were able to come in. Watching these mothers see their sons and daughters for the first time after their surgeries was unbelievable. These kids, these families, have new lives now. It’s incredible.

The last group of surgeons and nurses finished their final procedure around 8pm and stayed for 2 hours of post-op care. In total we successfully completed twelve cases today.

Good news all around.

And now a message from Debbie:

For all of our colleagues at FASC and Vassar, we want to let you know that we are giving a very good mission and helping many children. Thank you for all of the support and assistance that you have provided us with accomplishing these goals. We couldn’t do this without you! See you all soon!

To everyone supporting us, thank you.