This year, some of our team members at SpecialtyCare have been involved in trips where they take their medical skills to developing nations to provide care and relief to those who are suffering from treatable conditions.
We spoke to two team members, Devon King and Tom Boucher, about their experiences on medical mission trips. Devon went to Honduras, and Tom went to Barbados — specifically to perform surgical interventions to correct scoliosis.
“Heal a Child, Change the World”: Transforming Lives in Honduras
Devon King, BS, CNIM, is a Surgical Neurophysiologist III who has been on our team since 2014. He worked with two colleagues, Dr. Howard Place and Lauren Olejarz, who had been on the Honduras trip before.
“[They] personally asked me if I’d be interested in attending,” said Devon. “As this was a unique opportunity that does not come along often, I said yes! . . . [Lauren] debriefed me on how the days would go, the logistics of the surgeries — two operating rooms were run simultaneously, and I had to monitor both rooms at once. I pre-packed all my needles in separate bags and triple checked [that] I had everything included for two Cadwell IONM machines. I also had help from one of the representatives from the World Pediatric Project, the organization who funded this trip. [The representative] managed this trip and traveled with us and was most helpful. . . . The team consisted of two surgeons, an anesthesiologist, a CRNA, an internal medicine physician, four registered nurses, an instrumentation/implant rep, and myself (IONM).”
Devon revealed the memorable moments from his trip, explaining that while the healthcare system and environment were unfamiliar, the results could be very rewarding.
“Honduras is a completely different world, with a different healthcare system far different than what we have in the US. However, a particular moment that resonated with me: The Sunday after the day we arrived, the surgeons held an open clinic where parents and their child could show up to be assessed as potential surgical candidates. Some of them would travel from as far as 12 hours away by car or bus. Unfortunately, not everyone who showed up would be selected for surgery, as the team only had enough time and resources for about 10-16 scoliosis procedures,” said Devon.
“One particular patient, a young boy who had trouble walking, was brought by his father, who carried him on his shoulders while walking for over a day to get to the hospital, including travel by foot through jungle terrain. After a physical and medical assessment, this boy did end up being chosen for surgery out of a pool of about 50 patients who showed up. The amount of gratitude, joy, and relief from this boy’s father was profound, knowing his son would receive life-altering medical care.”
Devon has now been on two medical mission trips to Honduras, and he would encourage others to take the chance to attend.
“These are unique opportunities where you get to use your professional skills to make a difference in the lives of people in an underdeveloped nation,” said Devon. “It was a bit scary embarking on a journey like this but, in the end, I found it to be very rewarding and fulfilling. A particular mantra that was used by our team that sticks with me to this day: ‘Heal a child, change the world!’”