Lucinda Beamer, RN: Inova Healthcare, Virginia

Ecuador: February 2012

 As an operating room nurse and veteran of many surgical missions over the past twelve years, I traveled with Ecuadent Foundation to Salinas, Ecuador February 3 - 11, 2012. Our primary mission is to provide surgical correction for cleft lip and palates but the need is so great, we include other birth defects such as syndactyl, congenital deformities and post traumatic injury repairs. On our first clinic day, the small hospital was mobbed with families seeking medical care; many for the first time in their lives. Everyone was desperate to receive some kind of healing and preventative care.

 Every morning we were greeted by the locals and, in particular, a group of elementary age children who cheered us on and danced around us as we entered the hospital. We triaged over sixty candidates and selected those whom we could help in the days ahead. Each morning, our focus was on the surgical services they would receive in the three operating rooms provided by our hosts. We operated on thirty-five children and young adults. Sometimes, only one or two surgeries could be performed due to the extent and complexity of the surgery.

 Working in less than optimal conditions is always challenging. Although we bring all of the supplies we need, there is always an unexpected and unanticipated problem. In one instance, the anesthesia team created a set up to provide intra-operative care so we could open a third operating room suite. In another case, an eight year old boy was born with only a partial, rudimentary ear. The three part procedure to build a matching ear was begun on this trip but required special drains which we didn't have. We put our experience and backgrounds together and along with our resources, were able to make a device that worked like a charm. When we return in the next two years, this young boy will have his ear surgery completed. His mother will not cry because her son is being bullied at school for looking different.

 I love the surgical mission work that I do. All of us feel privileged to be chosen for this purpose. We meet one another from all over our country in foreign lands. We come together quickly and efficiently to provide those in need; especially children.

 Thank you for the opportunity and the support from the Benjamin Josephson Fund.