Salinas, Ecuador - July, 2009

Team Type: Pediatric Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, Prosthetics and Bracing, and Physical and Occupational Therapy

Campaign Summary: Almost 450 children and adults were triaged. Approximately 150 surgeries (73 orthopedic and more than 70 eye procedures, all children) were completed. Ninety-three people were fitted with braces and five people received artificial legs. The Eye Team provided screening and/or eyeglasses for 75 adults. One hundred-thirteen received physical therapy.


Sponsors:
Americares, Stamford, Connecticut
Cascade DAFO, Ferndale, Washington
Cielo Para Los Niños Del Ecuador, Guayaquil, Ecuador
City of Salinas, Salinas, Ecuador
Dr. Jose Garces Rodriguez Hospital, Salinas, Ecuador
Dr. Zorayda Figueroa, Guayaquil, Ecuador
The Ecuadorian Navy, Salinas, Ecuador
The Greek Philoptocas Church, Portland, Oregon
One Child at a Time, Salem, Oregon
Women's Auxiliary of the Salinas Naval School, Salinas, Ecuador

Team Members:
Sherrill Beck, Physical Therapist
Victoria Cadwallader, Nurse
Dr. Sam Farmer, Retinalogist
Guy Farris, Orthotist/Prosthetist
Missy Farris, Administration
Dr. Bill Gallagher, Orthopedic Surgeon
Teresa Hancock, Nurse
Stephanie Holmes, Nurse
Lauren Kjos, Interpreter
Gennaya, Mattison, Interpreter
Dr. Steve Mattison, Anesthesiologist
Mary Jo Rose, Nurse
Nancy Schmidt, Nurse
Sheldon Schmidt, Engineer
Suzanne Sharp, Nurse
Dr. David Shaw, Orthopedic Surgeon
Julie Speck, Physical Therapist
Alice Taylor, Nurse
Jennifer Truax, Occupational Therapist
Lettie Turner, Recovery Room Nurse
Kim Wiebe, Nurse
Cheryl Yant, Nurse
Dr. Jonathan Young, Anesthesiologist

Narrative:
There were no lines at the Portland International Airport; we just zipped through check-in and checked our bags full of medical supplies, braces, tools, parts, supplies, and toys through to Atlanta and the connection to Guayaquil, Ecuador. After the 4 ½ hour flight to Atlanta, we had a four hour layover. The exciting part of the layover involved getting caffeinated at Starbucks and watching our team's bags being loaded carefully aboard our plane for the 6 hour leg to Ecuador. Or so we thought.

During our landing approach into Guayaquil, we were required to put on surgical masks because of the Swine Flu pandemic and were required to have a body temperature screening before entering into the airport area. After 14 hours of travel and looking forward to a couple of hours sleep at the hotel, we discovered that eight of the team's bags (full of critical surgical and medical supplies) had not been loaded aboard our flight after all and we were told they wouldn't arrive for another day or two or three or ...

The team spent the night in Guayaquil and left the next morning for Salinas. Thankfully, after much finagling with customs, the bags finally caught up with us two days later as we were screening patients. They arrived just in time for surgeries.

Although our arrival was hectic, we sure hit the jackpot with the accommodations provided by the Ecuadorian Navy (Armada de Ecuador). We were quartered in what amounted to a three story, beachfront complex which is used by the families of Naval officers in transit to the base. We enjoyed staying in simple but comfortable rooms with "Miami Beach" views of the Ecuadorian coastline and a constant breeze and "surf serenade" during the night. As we were off to the hospital at 7:00 AM and back between 7:00 and 9:00 PM, we mostly got evening/nighttime to relax there. What a wonderful respite from the manic/hectic and virtually schizophrenic days trying to respond to the needs of hundreds of children and parents who flooded the corridors of the Jose Garces Rodriguez Hospital.

Lives were changed - theirs and ours - during the 12 days we worked in Salinas. This trip was a very rich experience, marked by adapting and functioning in confusing, constantly changing circumstances with the families patiently waiting for hours and trusting in the care of the American medicos. There were lots of tears and smiles from all of us.

I suppose the highlight of the trip was the return of Astrid, the little girl from Guayaquil, Ecuador whose birth deformities resulted in her legs being amputated last year by our team. Last year after the surgery we made a set of rather primitive legs for her using parts from orthopedic braces and were thrilled to watch her walk upright for the first time in her life! This year we hoped to see her again and brought prosthetic components appropriate for making more comfortable and functional prosthetic legs. It was FOUR DAYS before she appeared in the packed clinic hallway (looking like a little angel)...with a huge grin, WALKING through the crowd with her Mom, Dad, and little brother. What a sweet reunion we had, and after lots of hugs and conversation through the translators, she was molded for her new legs and left to make the 3 hour trip back home to Guayaquil. She returned two days later to get fitted and trained to use her new legs. When she left for home, she was about two inches taller and was walking much better already. What a wonderful way to wind up a difficult and humbling mission trip!

After we returned home, Capitol City Medical Teams received a call from the provider of our credit cards. There were some suspicious travel charges for around $2,600 on one of our cards. Since no one took the reported trip to Spain, they were reported as fraudulent. One other team member also reported fraudulent billings on his personal credit card. Fortunately, the credit card companies spotted the problem early and took care of it.


Upcoming Campain Information

More Success Stories