Some of us awoke to warm showers today. The rest of us were left in the cold. A friendly feud was had between the have’s and have not’s! After a breakfast of fresh fruit, delicious omelets, and warm unknown juice we headed to the public hospital of Riobamba, Ecuador. Twenty four of us split into 5 different cars and arrived at the hospital lobby where patients were quietly waiting for us. It is Sunday morning and aside from our surgical mission group, the hospital staff assisting us, and the patients the hospital was eerily vacant in the morning. Our first mission was to unload our 54 crates and bags of surgical equipment to the operating room. We were excited to get underway!
The surgical teams split up into urology, general surgery, and plastic surgery and headed toward the consultation rooms. The urologists, Drs’ Brad and Pradeep (Michigan), had a busy morning coordinating care with local urologist Dr. Garcia Wilson. He kept the atmosphere light joking with patients and staff, reminding them that international experts on ‘all things below the belt’ had finally arrived. 15 surgeries ranging from uterovaginal prolapsed to prostate cancer were boarded for surgery starting the next day. Drs’ Pravin (Iowa) and Helen (Ireland) identified three patients including a twelve year old who needed colostomy reversals. Plastic surgeons, Drs’ Parit (Chicago) Mehul (Michigan) and Loren (Michigan) identified large number of microtia and complex cleft palate.
Anesthesiologist, Dr Kandwala, and CRNA’s (Priscilla and Mimi) were quick to identify missing parts in two of three anesthesia machines. Their macquiver skills came in handy and they promised to ‘jimmy’ the machines into full functioning order by the morning. The head of the hospital was put to task to identify missing replacement parts. OR nurses (Matt, Amanda, Stacy, Lindsey, Maria, Marguerite) tried their best to make order out of chaos as they unloaded 54 crates into 3 operating rooms – dividing between preop, postop, plastic surgery, general surgery, and urology. They all agreed that the local nursing staff was incredibly helpful and cooperative despite sudden influx of foreign surgeons and staff. Operation International nurses and local nurses brainstormed to ensure all equipment was available for anesthesiologists and surgeons.
Finally after a long afternoon of triage and set up we headed home, Primavera Hotel, in hopes that the have-nots would have some warm water for showers. Ahh! Again, no such luck for everyone. However, there was enough lasagna and cervaza to go around for everyone. And even a late night ping pong tourney for those who were interested. A quick debriefing of the day’s events by everyone allowed us to all recap what we liked so much about this mission – Emily and Anna, our PA students, even admitted to enjoying the urology clinic! Callie, our photographer, had the days events recorded for us to review.
Well we are all excited about tomorrow’s surgical procedures and getting to know the culture of Ecuador we are currently immersed in. More then!
Hi to everyone at home!
In the morning, Mehul, Praveen, and Lauren saw three patients at our hotel before heading out for a quick tour of Quito. On our tour, we got to see a beautiful Basilica, and “the middle of the earth” where they did various experiments to show the difference of forces between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, compared to the equator. We took various photos at the equator.
Thereafter, we went back to the hotel and loaded all of our medical supplies onto a truck along with our personal belongings, and started the 3 hour trek to Riobamba.