In October 2013, Doctors International launched its first mission to Guyana, South America. Led by Drs. Vaziri and Dangerfield, a 21-member-team of surgeons, surgical residents, anesthesiologists, nurses, surgical techs and a public health specialist spent the week seeing patients, conducting surgeries and educating healthcare providers at Guyana’s Georgetown Public Hospital and West Demerara Hospital. In addition, the team worked with the Ministry of Health performing health education outreach for the public.
The team saw over 100 patients in clinic and performed approximately 50 urology and general surgery procedures.
Educational development in the practice and care of surgical patients is a crucial part of Doctors International. Team members conducted daily educational talks with the nursing, administrative and surgical hospital staff at the Georgetown and West Demerara Hospitals.
A primary goal for Doctors International is to educate patients and local healthcare providers in order to improve the existing quality of healthcare at that locale. Each patient considered for surgery received individual consultation with the surgeons and anesthesiologists. Each session allowed for review of disease pathophysiology, surgical options and preoperative studies. Following surgery, patients were seen by the surgical team to review postoperative care.
With regards to outreach in the country, the team was very active. Using breast cancer month as an incentive, the team, with Guyana’s Chief Medical Officer took to the television outlets including Guyana Today, Pulse Beat and Twenty Minute Issues to discuss the importance of early breast cancer detection with mammograms and self-breast examinations. The team also published three articles in the Guyana Times newspaper on signs, symptoms and screening tests for breast and prostate cancer– two diseases that significantly affect the Guyanese population.
While the surgical team had scheduled several general surgery and urology procedures for the week, there was one unexpected procedure that was performed on the first operating day in West Demerara. An 18-year-old boy had been struck by his horse. With a low blood pressure, abdominal pain and imaging showing evidence of active bleeding, he was taken emergently to the operating room with the Guyanese general surgery team. He was found to have a ruptured spleen that was bleeding uncontrollably. Dr. Vaziri and the DI team were called in to help control the bleeding. The DI team and Guyanese doctors worked together until the bleeding was controlled and spleen was safely removed. Postoperatively, Dr. Vaziri and the team visited the boy and expect a full recovery.
The success of the mission would not have been possible without a strong partnership with Guyana’s Ministry of Health and the hospitality of the physicians, nurses and staff at both the Georgetown and West Demerara hospitals. At the conclusion of the trip, the groups’ efforts were celebrated by the Minister of Health, Chief Medical Officer and the President of Guyana. The celebration reaffirmed the team’s commitment to improving health in the community abroad and forged a partnership that will continue to bring missions that educate, heal and generate excitement about leading healthy lives.
The first mission trip for Doctors International was a resounding success and is an experience the team and those in Guyana will remember for years to come.