During the last week of September, I boarded a plane with three colleagues, 10 duffle bags of supplies, one complete telehealth system and a desire to provide medical care and health education to a community in Honduras. After clearing customs and a 5-hour bus ride our team of 15 rolled into Catacamus, Honduras ready to work.
The first day was a whirlwind.
The surgeons that accompanied the brigade spent the day prepping patients and clearing them for surgery. The rest of the team proceeded to unload bags, set up operating rooms, establish a triage center and got to know the medical professionals in our host community.
But why were we there?
The bottom line—to provide medical care to the underserved. The healthcare system in Honduras makes surgical interventions too costly for the majority of its citizens to access. As a result, many live with their afflictions or discomfort until a team arrives to provide free or low-cost procedures. Our host, Predisan Health Ministries, serves the Olancho region through a network of facilities that include the Good Samaritan Medical Center. This hospitals mission is to render care to the surrounding population who live in oppressive poverty and have very limited opportunities.
Over the course of four and a half days the team performed 64 surgeries.
Two operating rooms ran for roughly 12 to 14 hours a day performing hysterectomy’s, cholecystectomies and hernia repairs. Patients lined the hallways with their families patiently waiting their turn. When the procedures were completed and the patients awoke in the recovery room, even if they were in pain or scared, they showed such appreciation.
As a provider, there is no way to measure how this makes you feel. To know that our actions have directly affected someone’s life and, in many ways, changed it for the better, it is overwhelming.
Knowing that the community of doctors and nurses that reside there are always in need of more medical education, the LocumTenens.com team established a formal telehealth training center. We set up a telemedicine workstation that can be accessed by providers or patients to ensure that specialty care is only a video call away. Over the week I met with the staff, trained them on the equipment, established a deployment schedule and began building a peer-to-peer consulting program. These telehealth services will ensure that our footprint remains at Good Samaritan Medical Center and we can continue making an impact from afar.
I am beyond grateful for the week I spent in Honduras. The community and the hospital embraced us, and it was a pleasure to assist the patients and work alongside their doctors and nurses. I gained valuable clinical experience and a much deeper understanding of the challenges they face daily on the front lines with limited resources.
LocumTenens.com is a proponent of servant leadership. This is a philosophy built on the belief that the most effective leaders strive to serve others. This trip reinforced that principle for me. There is no better feeling than giving back and expecting nothing in return.
The day that we left to come home was bittersweet. I knew that there were more patients who we weren’t able to serve, either due to complexity or lack of time on the ground. This is what drives mission workers to return. The knowledge that there is always more to do, more to teach and more to give. I’ll be back. Ready to lead. Ready to serve. Ready to change lives.
About the author
Associate Vice President of Telehealth
Pamela Ograbisz, Associate Vice President of Telehealth for LocumTenens.com. With 20 years of experience in cardiothoracic surgery and internal medicine, she is passionate about delivering quality healthcare in a timely manner. Dr. Ograbisz is confident that telehealth programs are the key to improving health and the overall patient experience.