Thursday, March 31, 2011

Operation Walk 2011 - Day 6, March 29

The final day of Operation Walk 2011 was a day of celebration. The team made its way to the hospital one last time for morning rounds on our patients, and settled in for some final physical therapy, discharge teaching, and clinical duties.

The team would be leaving with 14 patients still in-house, and pass-off to the Dominican staff who would take over their care was an essential part of the process. We are fortunate to have Dr. Luis Alcantara (pictured at right), a talented and experienced Orthopaedic surgeon who practices in Santo Domingo as a member of the Op Walk team. All of the Op Walk patients in the hospital transition to a team under his supervision, and everyone who was operated on over the course of the week is seen by him in follow-up clinic. Close follow-up is essential to a good surgical outcome, and without Dr. Alcantara's help, the mission could not meet its goal of providing the highest level of care.

The highlight of the day was certainly the group photo. Patients still in the hospital made it out of their rooms and walked down the hallway to where the photo was to be taken...all the while cheered on by the members of the Op Walk team.

Those patients who had been discharged earlier in the week came back to the hospital to join in the photo, and there were many smiles and lots of hugs as patients reunited with each other and with their providers. All of the physicians, medical students, nurses, therapists, and staff (both American and Dominican) joined the patients in the photo as well--as you can see below, it was quite a scene.

As the mission comes to a close, I feel deeply honored to have had the opportunity to work with such an incredible group of patients, whose resilience, strength, and high-spirits bouyed all of us through an arduous week. Their unquestioning trust in our abilities and intentions to help them was truly moving. I am thankful for the generosity of Hospital General Plaza de Salud, its staff, and the wonderful physicians, nurses, and students who gave so much of their time and energy, as well as the facilities to make this mission possible. And I am proud to have worked with a team of people so hardworking, talented, and dedicated to their cause. As a newcomer to the group this year, the collaboration between nursing, therapists, pharmacists, physicians, and staff was incredible to be a part of -- rarely does this happen so seemlessley in the hospital setting in the States. I can say with confidence that we all took a personal and emotional investment in every patient that was operated on this week; never was there a mention of my patient or your patient -- they were all our patients.

I look forward to beginning the planning and preparation for Operation Walk 2012. We will be monitoring the progress of our patients throughout the year with updates from Dr. Alcantara. Our goal of continuing to collect data regarding out outcomes will proceed through the help of Dr. Katz and others.

To finish off the blog entries from this year's trip, here are a few more pictures of our team...

And here we have the cargo room...stocked and waiting for our arrival next year!

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