HEALTH TALENTS INTERNATIONAL
Surgical Clinic Trip Report
February 10-17, 2001

Participants: Drs. Phil Bates, Bill Bailey, Enrique Duprat, Judy Jehle, Roy Kellum and Alan Stallings; CRNAs Jeannine Dewey and Eddie Milam; Nurses Jan Aaron, Neva Berkey, Paula Betz, Charlene Bryant, Lisa Cantrell, Connie Eckstine, Cindy Herring, Lee McCraw, Martha Oyston, Michel Shackleford, Wina Taylor, Michelle Whitehead, and Linda Worthy. Chaplain Lance Pape; Pre-op Nurse Lynn Samuels; Surg tech Jeff Biscari; Translators Erik Fortmeyer and John White; Sterilization team John Taylor, Pat Dwyer, and JoLee Thayer, Students Ellen Mao, Rachel Grubb, and Brad Russell; and Marie Agee.

Assisted by: Dr. Sergio and Veronica Castillo, Dr. Jim Gill, and Marco Diaz. Also health promoters Maruca, Diego of Xejuyup and Diego of Maxanija, and Hermalindo, the preacher from La Florida.

Surgical Clinic Statistics:

Vaginal Hysterectomies 16

Hernia Repair & Cyst Removal 57

Total: 73

Arriving in Chocola: We arrived in Chocola in time for breakfast. Immediately afterwards the doctors began examining patients, while the nurses had orientiation and toured the supply room to find out where everything was and the anesthesia people setup their rooms. We were operating within two hours of our arrival. Neva Berkey was head nurse on this trip and did an outstanding job of working out the schedule in 8 hours shifts. Amazingly, even though she did not know many of the nurses ahead of time, each shift of nurses seemed to bond on the first day so there was very little swapping throughout the week.

Surgical Patients: As noted above, as is typical, the majority of the patients had hernias. Some had doubles, and in one case there were three to be repaired! One man had a particularly large testicular hernia. Word seems to be out in the villages about our hernia repair work. During the pre-surgery exam of one patient, he actually told Dr. Duprat, who speaks fluent Spanish, to “put me in mesh!” Evidently, the villagers think you do better when your hernia is reinforced with mesh! The surgeons also performed a hemorrhoidectomy on one man. We had a few children this time, but only one that was really young. He was a toddler with a cyst on his lip. One male patient was clearly in detox after his hernia repair and required special attention. A male health promoters literally sat by his bed all night to monitor him, but he seemed to be better by morning. The daughter of a woman patient nearly became hysterical when she came to see her mother soon after surgery and found her mother sleeping so soundly that she thought she was dead! The nurses sent for Dr. Jim Gill who tried to reassure her that her mother was only sleeping. He had her listen to her mother’s heartbeat with his stethoscope in order to finally convince her that she was fine! Overall, the patients did exceedingly well this time. No complications of any sort.

Spiritual Care: Lance Pape of the West Islip Church of Christ in West Islip, New York,served as chaplain for the team. His devos were especially thoughtful and appropriate for what we were experiencing. Several mentioned afterwards how much they appreciated what they had to say. Marco again ministered in the courtyard with patients’ families while Hermalindo worked in the pre-op room, comforting and praying with patients before surgery. Lance even preached in the courtyard some while Marco translated for him.

Maintainence Problems: The lighting problems have been solved to a great degree by removing the old florescent lights and wiring for incandescent lights. We still need better surgical lighting, but Dr. Danny Minor has already contributed some that he hopes to install this Spring in the new facility. Wonder of wonders, the electricity never went off—even once—during the week. We hooked up the generator just in case, but we never had to use it. The autoclaves continue to be a source of problems. This time, in fact, “Willy” literally blew his door gasket, but John Taylor and John White were able to transplant the door from “Matilda,” who is “Willy’s” twin. They then renamed Willy. He will now known as “Wil-tilda.”

Lost Luggage: For the first time we really had a problem with lost luggage. We’ve had luggage show up a day or two late before, but we’ve never had any that just didn’t arrive. All nine missing pieces had been checked in Birmingham, Alabama. On the plane from Birmingham with us was a UAB surgical team of 35 people headed to Quito, Ecuador. I was concerned about this and even spoke with the agents to make sure that our luggage would make it onto the plane. I was assured that they would not leave it behind. They didn’t, but most of it ended up in Quito! Four pieces straggled in during the week, but five, including one that contained needed surgical instruments, never showed at all. Sure enough, when they found all the missing pieces, they were in Ecuador! Next year I will make sure that we are on a flight different from the UAB one.

Chocola Entertainment: Marco took the team members in shifts to see the waterfall. That is always a fun and relaxing thing to do. Because of the large team, it took three trips to take everyone. Vitelio De León, the basket maker who lives across the road from the clinic, gave another demonstration of his work. It is particularly fascinating because he grows several different kinds of bamboo, strips it down, then makes very creative basketry.

New Facility: On Friday, our last day, we drove by Montellano to get a look at the new construction and found it to be beautiful! I expected it to be large and impressive, but I really didn’t expect it to be so pretty! The blocks they are using for construction have been colored pink and beige and look so wonderful! Nery Castillo gave us a walking tour of the construction. We were overwhelmed at what has been accomplished thus far.

Follow Up: Dr. Castillo reported that he had seen all the patients within a week of our leaving and all were doing exceptionally well. We give our thanks to a marvelous God who gives us so much, including opportunities to minister in His name to people.