RNs from Massachusetts and New York area hospitals participated in a medical mission to Hospital Padre Carollo in Quito, Ecuador, from Aug. 22-26 as part of Medical Missions for Children, based in Woburn, Mass. Members of the surgical team set out to repair cleft lips and palates of some 75 children.
OR nurses Gabriele Cohen, RN, MEd, CNOR, from Milton (Mass.) Hospital and Gloria Hicks, RN, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston volunteered for the five-day surgical mission. They worked alongside nurses from Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. This was Hicks’ first trip to Quito. She was unfamiliar with the hospital and did a little research before going. “I read about the places I travel to, so I am as prepared as I can be,” Hicks said. “I love that nothing is typical in the OR here or abroad.”
With three ORs and two dental clinics, the mission had five team leaders who were responsible for the orders and direction for their teams. By Day 2, the teams had completed 16 cleft palate repairs, with the last case ending at 8:30 p.m. Day 3 brought not only cleft palate repairs, but two tonsillectomies. Day 4 brought another 16 surgeries.
Cohen served as the RN leader on the mission. “We did 76 cases, most of them under general anesthesia,” she said.Photo by Anthony Bonazzo
Members of the medical mission qroup who volunteered in Quito, Ecuador.
Hicks scrubbed in most days and participated in five or six cases, she said. There was one patient who stole her heart. “Her name [was] Carol,” Hicks said. “She had suffered a traumatic dog bite on her forehead and was in need of a scar revision. I spent a good deal of time with her and her mother on the last post-op day. … I fell apart when I said goodbye to her.”
On a trip like this, there are no egos in the OR. Working with practitioners from other facilities was not a problem.
“There are no personal agendas,” Hicks said. “Everyone comes together and does whatever needs to be done for patients and team members. No politics, just good work.”
This was Cohen’s 12th mission to Quito and she agreed the trip provided an amazing experience. “There is such teamwork” she said. “When everyone knows what their role is and helps each other, no one needs to be told what to do, and all give their best.”