Thursday, July 8, 2010

One way SDQ-LAX

We won’t call it the “final return” as we already have a trip planned to work again at Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti in August. Nonetheless, the one way ticket symbolizes the close of an era where Hispaniola was home, and the beginning of another, where now we will be merely short term volunteers or tourists when returning to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The freedoms of lawless driving, inner city living, and caring for gracious Dominicans and Haitians will be on hold.

We leave behind friends who have taught us to value love and relationships as much as the American ideals of performance and production. The difficulties of adaptation will hopefully be softened by our ability to hold on to these world views and remain strong in our intentions to live conscientiously, not forgetting the hardships, suffering and love that we have seen during the past 5 ½ years.

December 30, 2004 En Route to Santo Domingo (NYC subway station) - Chad 7, Alex 5

July 6, 2010 Arrival Los Angeles - Alex 11, Chad 13

Our decision to return to southern California and me to work at Loma Linda University was made with much deliberation and prayer. Yes, we have family and friends there that we love – but we came more for the challenges than for the comforts. My position at Loma Linda allows us to continue with an unchanged mission. Challenge, sacrifice, and most importantly the opportunity to train others for service is what attracted me most to this new position. My education and our unique experiences will hopefully help bring reality to the ideals and dreams of students and young doctors who have come to seek an education at an institution founded upon the precepts of global service and a love for God and mankind.

Loma Linda University Medical Center

I would like to strengthen Loma Linda University Medical Center’s position as a referral center for patients with complex limb and spine deformity. Developing a center of excellence for the correction of congenital limb deformities, limb lengthening, and pediatric spinal deformity, as well as post traumatic limb deformities, bone deficits and nonunions will provide a unique service to patients in the region who often have very few options. This will also form a strong foundation for the education of the orthopaedic residents interested in a variety of subspecialties.

Cure Dominicana continues with the medical leadership of Dr. Ted Beemer. Later this year plans are in place for transitioning his responsibilities to Dr. Dan Ruggles who is a previous resident of mine and subsequently did a pediatric orthopaedic fellowship in Los Angeles. They will continue to need the support of short term specialists as well as those willing to donate their time and resources. The success of that program and the children who have had life changing surgical treatment at that hospital have depended on the expertise and sacrifices of all of us.

The more recent collaboration since the earthquake at Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti continues on as well. A current transition from large volumes of short term earthquake relief volunteers towards a model of medium and long term volunteers with local staff integration is in progress to develop a sustainable program. The hospital has developed a reputation as a premier center for orthopaedic and reconstructive surgery. Orthopaedics is currently being staffed by Mark Perlmutter MD who will hopefully be staying until November when Terry Dietrich MD and his wife Jeannie RN, come to serve on a long term basis. Nathan Lindsey from Loma Linda is serving as assistant administrator along with the tireless work of Brooke Beck RN who continues to provide an essential service at the hospital.