It’s not every day you get to work in an organization where charitable outreach is one of its driving forces. According to the associates who work at LocumTenens.com, they aren’t employees of your typical physician staffing company. Its mission is to improve healthcare by providing patients with access to quality medical care through innovative staffing solutions, which includes sending its own associates, along with medical volunteers and donated medical equipment, on an annual brigade to Honduras in partnership with Predisan Health Ministries.
“I felt the calling to come serve beyond what I’ve been doing in the past. Yeah, we’re doing surgeries, but we’re doing so much more. Seeing the impact, seeing the patient walk out of the OR and walk back to their family with tears and the gratefulness that this one surgery can have on an entire community is tremendous,” recalls associate Will Hunter of his trip in 2017. “This puts a feeling to what we do. It’s real; it’s sincere.”
LocumTenens.com arranges and pays for travel expenses so medical personnel can join the annual brigade and donate their time in surgery. “Going on these mission trips has become a highlight of my year,” says CRNA Mo Bell, who is about to participate for the ninth year in a row. “I love having the opportunity to help people who are less
fortunate than I am with fewer resources available. The work we have done has been extremely rewarding on a personal and professional basis. But I think what I can say has been one of the most profound benefits of these trips has been the friendships I have made over the years with the LocumTenens.com associates and my surgical colleagues. I have also developed some incredible relationships with the staff at Predisan.”
Dr. Damon Simpson, a general surgeon, mirrors Mo’s sentiments. “The LocumTenens.com trip to Predisan has become one of the most important events of the year for me. This will be my sixth trip and it gets better every year. I'm so grateful they allow me to participate in this unique opportunity. The trip is such a blessing for everyone it touches. The patients in Catacamas get access to outstanding surgical care. At the same time, the participants benefit from a wonderful opportunity to serve, travel to a unique part of the world and enjoy a week of fellowship with each other. It truly is a win-win all the way around.”
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Dr. Simpson shares a story about one of the most difficult medical situations that had the best possible outcome. “Just as we were about to close up the ORs, a gentleman came to the clinic with acute cholecystitis. We knew his case would likely be very difficult. However, after discussing it amongst the team, we decided his best chance for expedient treatment was at Predisan with our surgical brigade. Although we don't have all the resources usually available to us in the U.S., we had more than most locations in Honduras, and a team with a tremendous amount of combined experience. It ended up being one of the most difficult cholecystectomies any of us had ever done, but never departed from a safe and reasonable operation. The case ended well, and the patient did great. It was the best way to wrap the week.”
Each year the group performs more and more procedures, including hysterectomies, gall bladder removal surgeries, hernia repairs and other general surgical procedures. A typical day in the OR can consist of 12+ procedures in two rooms across four days. “Some days are really long, with some even longer,” Mo adds. “But we all work together to get it done.” With each year that goes by, the team sees improvements with their equipment and supplies. As Predisan receives more funding, they are able to upgrade to more advanced anesthesia machines and medical equipment, which makes the surgeries more efficient. In 2017, the LocumTenens.com/Predisan group set a record of 56 procedures in only four days.
“This was hands down the most rewarding experience of my life,” reflects Eddie Rundle of LocumTenens.com. “I helped give care to people who would never otherwise get the medical attention they need, and it gave perspective on how lucky we are to have access to so many healthcare professionals every day, something we take for granted. It’s humbling to see one of our core values of ‘others first’ happening in such a meaningful way.”
For Predisan doctors, staff, and the communities they serve, the work of these selfless associates and clinicians is a blessing that is difficult to put into words. Dr. Sergio Licona explains how in low-income and lower-middle-income countries, nine out of ten people have no access to basic surgical care. “But don’t let the statistics numb you because behind every number there is a name, a face and a story. They will break your heart, but also inspire you to take action.” Locumtenens.com’s volunteers have taken action to put others first for many years. Dr. Licona describes the six-month process of organizing screenings throughout Predisan’s 35 mountain clinics. Many patients wait an entire year for the opportunity for spiritual and physical healing. Every year serves more people, brings new challenges, new successes—and new lives transformed forever.