Raymond E. Peart, M.D., of Lancaster Orthopedic Group, has made two trips to Choluteca, a very poor section of southern Honduras. He offered free care for hand and upper extremity conditions – and found more work than he could handle.
The operating rooms and anesthesia equipment were fairly modern, but anesthetics were in short supply. Dr. Peart brought some medication, supplies and equipment, but he performed many procedures using only local anesthesia. Those cases included separating a 30-year-old woman’s congenitally fused fingers and repairing tendons in an 11-year-old boy who held perfectly still and did not complain during a 45-minute procedure.
Dr. Peart, who plans to return to Honduras next January, encourages others to take time to share their skills and make a big impact on people in need.
“A mission trip is a wonderful opportunity … to learn about how people can make do with so little,” he said. “It also makes one appreciate what we have in the U.S. … The appreciation and gratitude (people) show make these trips extremely worthwhile.”
Michael S. Flood, M.D., of LG Health Physicians/Penn Medicine Surgical Group, spent a week in Honduras in 2007 under the auspices of CARE (Central American Relief Effort). Dr. Flood’s wife and three children also accompanied the group from Lancaster’s First Presbyterian Church.
The group spent a few days in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, repainting the pediatric wing in the main hospital – which, Dr. Flood notes, made LGH look “truly palatial.” At first, Dr. Flood spent time observing in the OR, but he eventually was allowed to offer some assistance.
Despite reused equipment and a dearth of supplies, he witnessed some fine technical work by the hospital’s plastic surgeon.
“People wait patiently to be triaged, give some sort of nominal consent (and) get their procedure,” he said. “In return, they agree to donate blood. … Post-op, you’re on your own with pain meds. If your family can afford NSAIDS from the local pharmacy, that’s what you get. …Recovery (is) in a crowded ward with open windows, heat and flies.”
The group also visited a rural location, where a few hundred people awaited their arrival.
“With an interpreter for a BRIEF H/P, I dispensed vitamins, Rx’ed Anthelmintics to any child over age 1 with a swollen belly, looked for -- and found one case of -- the endemic leishmaniasis,” Dr. Flood said. “(The Hondurans were) the most gracious, grateful group of patients I’ve ever encountered.”