Last year, Montefiore Medical Center nurses Sandy Lapin, RN, and Valerie Kirchmann, RN, created a poster presentation on breast cancer awareness as part of Peri-Operative Nurses Week. Lesley Taylor, MD, a surgical resident, had a dream to take breast cancer awareness to a remote area in Ecuador, as breast cancer is on the rise in that country.
Taylor spoke to the OR staff about her project and the need for volunteers. Lapin and Kirchmann knew immediately that they would volunteer. Passionate about the need for education and early detection of breast cancer, they went to work raising funds.Valerie Kirchmann, RN, far right, with Lesley Taylor, MD, center, and local physician Patricio Ochoa, MD.
At the same time, Taylor recruited other volunteers in addition to the nurses medical students, residents and a surgeon making it a multidisciplinary team effort. Eighteen staff members from Montefiore Medical Center, Mount Sinai Medical Center, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital and other volunteers made up the final team.
In Gualaceo, a village with a population of 40,000 in the Andes, treatment areas were set up for fractional molecular alterations, biopsies and surgery. Lapin and Kirchmann taught patients about self-breast exams and breast care. They brought posters, brochures, handouts and giveaways. They also used breast forms for people to palpate and find the lumps. Every patient was referred for follow-up care with a local physician. By the end of the week, the team cared for more than 1,000 people.