Medical Mission to Ecuador
It is my pleasure to report on a recent medical mission to Ecuador. A team was put together in order to bring state of the art diagnosis and treatment to the people of Ecuador suffering from venous insufficiency. Joining me was Drs. Nick Morrison (Scottsdale) and Helane Fronek (San Diego), ultrasound technologists Joe Zygmunt, Diana Neuhardt and Barbara Pohle-Schulze, and Terri Morrison, RN. Ryan Taylor, a friend of Nick’s and Lisa Fronek, Helane’s daughter, rounded out the team. Diana and Barb traveled earlier to Ecuador to enjoy and explore the Galapagos (they are obviously the brightest of the bunch). They joined us on our day 2, Tuesday, July 4.
We landed in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, late Sunday night July 2nd 2006. Zorayda Figueroa McCarthy, director of the foundation Amigos de Salud, organized all our arrangements in Quito. Consequently, we didn’t have to stop at all in customs. We were quickly brought to our waiting bus, along with the 18 trunks of supplies that we had checked and carried with us.
We awoke early the next morning to meet over a quick breakfast and then head by bus to the Police Hospital Number 1 in Quito. It’s hard to know what to expect on a trip like this. Would any patients show up? It was exciting to see the mass of people lined up extending out the front hospital door.
DAY ONE AT THE POLICE HOSPITAL #1 IN QUITO
The hospital staff welcomed us and provided a room to store our supplies, along with operating room suites and a recovery area. This first day was going to be spent organizing our supplies and performing a quick history and physical and ultrasound scans on as many of our patients as humanly possible. Utilizing the three ultrasound machines available on day 1, we scanned over 130 patients. When we looked up it was 6:30 at night. A quick bus ride back to the hotel was followed by a team dinner.
DAYS TWO – FIVE
We were back to the hospital about the same time the next day. Barb and Diana joined us and brought with them an additional ultrasound machine. Our plan was to have one person continue to scan patients, and have three treatment stations for most of the day. So, from Tuesday through Friday, this is what we did. We’d generally arrive by around 7:45 am. We’d work until about 2 or 3 pm, break for a quick lunch at the hospital cafeteria. Perhaps we were hungry, but the food was surprisingly good. We’d finish up about 6 or 6:30 pm. We scanned 350 patients and treated 200 patients; using our Diomed lasers to perform about 50 endovenous laser ablations and also doing 150 treatments with foam sclerotherapy. It was remarkable to see the number of patients with incompetence of both great saphenous veins and small saphenous veins. Our goal was to see and treat as many people as we could. There was such a great sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
Each of us brought a number of supplies that we personally provided. However, the trip wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our friends from industry. I would like to particularly thank Diomed for generously providing a laser as well as many laser kits and supplies. Other companies that helped us with supplies included Sigvaris, Juzo, Carollon, Medi USA and Vascular Solutions. The Police Hospital administrators and staff were very kind to us. My colleagues on the team were an absolute joy to be with. The people we tried to help were very humble, kind and appreciative. It was an amazing experience.