Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Spine Surgery Mission 2018 – Day 2

Day 2: Exactly how much did we pack?

The morning was pretty typical to trips in the past; some got up early and worked out, some took care of emails and everything, and others slept in until the last possible minute before the standard team breakfast, where we’d discuss the tentative plan for the day.

In the one year since I’ve been in Uganda, change is present, whether it be in the form of new highways and paved roads, or new buildings being built in Mbarara. But the familiarity of the hospital was pleasant as we drove down the road, ready to unpack our luggage and start a clinic. At the hospital, we unloaded what felt like countless boxes of supplies from the bus. Some unloaded them, some carried them in, and some started organizing and packing, creating a perfect system. The boxes slowly began to line the walls of the hallway and the rooms we were occupying, and when you try and fit 15 people in two rooms and a hallway with a bunch of boxes, it gets pretty cramped. As we finished up with the  majority of the supplies, the truck containing more arrived, and the unpacking once again resumed in the same manner. As we unpacked, we would pass one another, with either a new box or an armful of some sort necessary supplies destined to the sorted and stored in the storage room by Sherron and Sherri, and one by one, the boxes emptied. While most of us emptied the bins, the doctors, Sydnie, Michelle and myself ran off to visit a few patients, and in viewing one gentleman, it was decided to do a surgery on him to clean an infection and perform a laminotomy (a surgery that relieves pressure in the vertebral canal).

With the truck and bus now empty, we split into two main teams; Operating room (OR) prep, and a clinic team. Preparing the OR, we left Dr. Benton, Sherri, Sherron, Jason, Joel (who spent a good majority of time repairing the C-arm, which is used to take x-rays during the surgeries), Brian and Kari. For clinic, Dr. Hisey, Dr. Lieberman, and Dr. Villerreal seeing patients , Dr. Gorlick, Sydnie, Michelle, and myself (Adam) scribed for the three clinic rooms, while Dr. Kisinde, Dr. Kisitu, and Dr. Tuhumwira translated for those who could not understand.

The day went by as smoothly as it can, when, you know, anything could happen at any time. Dr. Benton’s vaporizer blew a fuse upon being plugged in when testing it, so she had to adjust her plan for the rest of the week and use a different anesthetic gas than she initially planned. Other than that, OR prep went by well, with supplies being wrapped up and set to be sterilized rapidly, and everything being positioned and set up the way the teams would need them for surgery for the afternoon and following days.

Time for surgery came about, and Dr. Villerreal left clinic to perform the surgery, where he left clinic and Dr. Hisey and Dr. Lieberman continued to run, with Michelle, Dr. Gorlick, Sydnie and I continuing to scribe, where an estimated 60 patients were seen through the entire day. As surgery occurred, clinic and unpacking continued for a few more hours until clinic wrapped up, unpacking was called for the day (with a lot more boxes, bags and bins still needing to be opened and emptied), and the surgery was successful.

We left the hospital and returned to the hotel, where we had our team dinner before sharing lessons we learned for the day (everyday, no matter what, you should learn something). Afterwards, we split, some of us arm wrestling each other, and others passing out for the day, finally able to get a good night’s rest after so much travel and a long day of work, knowing another one was right in front of us.

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