Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Haiti Trip Feb 15-21, 2009

For more images see

In spite of 16 trips to Haiti the needs are not declining… This trip we were privileged to have the expertise of Dr. Jim Matiko one of my previous professors from residency at Loma Linda University as well as Geordy a senior orthopaedic resident from New York City. Even more noteworthy than us 3 “gringos” are the 3 Dominicanas – two nurses and anesthesiologist that can worked tirelessly into the morning hours on multiple occasions this past week. Their unwavering devotion, loving attitude and efficiency are an inspiration to all.

Working with other surgeons is a rare privilege in the states, but in the DR and during these trips to Haiti it has been a great opportunity for me to join with colleagues continue my quest for learning. It is especially a privilege to work with a former professor. He always taught all of us residents to be “lazy surgeons”. In reality “lazy surgeons” are perfectionists. The principle is that you must do it right the first time so you don’t have a complication that will create extra work. In Haiti this is especially important as many of our patients get very little follow up. Thus, each case is started with a prayer and with God’s helping hand we consider each operation a sacred event and don’t compromise on anything.

There are few experiences in life that are more gratifying, however, that is not why we do it. The gratification I simply pass on to the donors, our CURE support staff, and my family for the great privilege of helping these people. More importantly, the exchange of love in this environment of raw suffering is a call to action. The old man in bed 17 who called out to us to fix his femur every time we walked by, the little boy with the elbow fracture who smiled and thanked us as he awoke from anesthesia are just a couple of the reasons that we continue into working into the late hours of the night on these trips. Hopefully this call to action will continue remind all of us of the importance of serving those less fortunate, no matter where we are in our walk of life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A New Required Rotation? Matt Hiersche LLUSM4

I’m currently a 4th year medical student at Loma Linda University with a rich history of overseas medical missionary work and an extensive international network of hospitals that accept visiting students. Why then, did I choose CURE International for my first away rotation in my senior year? I think that a statement one of my friends made in a recent email summarizes my motivation well. She said, ‘I’d love to work internationally, but as an anesthesiologist, I wouldn’t want to spend five years abroad using halothane and ketamine, watching my skills deteriorate in an international setting. How can I come back to the States later and feel comfortable working at our level again?’ Unfortunately, these doubts seem to permeate certain segments of the medical community. But might there be a cure?

Upon my return to the States and my regular studies, I continually found myself explaining my experience in the DR in one emphatic command. “If you’re interested in medical mission work, particularly surgical,” I kept exclaiming, “Then my month in the DR with the Nelsons should be a required rotation!” I, along with many of my friends, had long suffered under the false impression that following God’s command to serve His children abroad would simultaneously mandate that we regress in our level of medical care. What kind of vision of God is that, though? In finding CURE, I found an institution that believed in the God given directive of “providing the best care in the world for the least of the world.” In keeping with this vision, the CURE for my friends and me suddenly became clear. No longer would a first rate education generate a second rate level of care. No longer is it necessary to languish with only halothane and ketamine, while our skills deteriorate in “God’s service.” It is not our expectations or our level of care that needs to change when considering medical mission work as a future. It is our vision of God that needs to change. When we feel the call to serve, we must believe that God will provide a means by which we might serve at the level of His desire – that is at our best.