Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Launching out on faith

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This would be the 16th trip to Catacamas, Honduras to help out with the medical work in the remote village. Every year just when it seemed that things would not come together, we would somehow find enough people, supplies and energy to pull off a successful surgical safari. This year would offer the same challenges with what appeared to be intensified requirements. As the days before launch time dwindled away the sensation of uneasiness seemed to increase.

On other trips I had the mindset that somehow we could get the details worked out. Maybe my faith was stronger then than on this one. There had been some new requirements for personnel I was still trying to negotiate. Previously, anyone could help in the operating room. We could take a person from a nonmedical background and make them into a surgical assistant or nurse overnight. We did this with on-the-job supervision and one-on-one training. This had been the method for getting enough help for the weeklong 8-to-5 labor it takes to perform 25 or more procedures in the short time. This system had worked well without complications or untoward results for more than a decade.

New requirements insisted on scrub personnel with a current license as the only help for the operating room environment. As the roster stood on D day we had two surgeons and only one certified surgical nurse.

Supplies had seemed to be more difficult to obtain. A couple of sources for old equipment were no longer providing the overage of the items necessary to permit me to pick and choose the ones I needed. I did find a new Godsend organization called Project C.U.R.E. conveniently located in Nashville and through an inside connection was able to pad my suitcases with ample things to pull off the 25 procedures we were expected to do.

With many thanks to Gibbs Pharmacy, we gathered the medications needed for a bare minimum of analgesics needed. Patients there require much less support for their discomfort than those in the United States. The University Medical Center hospital once again supplied us with antibiotics equivalent to the treatment we would offer in this country.

So with things appearing to come together again, I cinched up my belt and loaded my suitcase for the great unknown, the mysteries and uncertainties of foreign travel. With the help of Kitty Pennington, Don Thompson, Judy O'Gorman, Terry and Jeff Hallums, I'm sure we can pull off another successful surgical endeavor.

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