Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Spine Surgery Mission 2019 Day 11

It’s Go Time… Again!

August 19, 2019

Day 11


This morning started with a 5:15am wake-up call for those that wanted to do some Pilates led by Dr. Lieberman. Or some extra sleep for the others. We all met up for a good breakfast at 6:30 before heading out for the hospital at 7:00am. When we got there, we fell back into a familiar rhythm: Nathaniel to round, Drs. Lieberman and Gorlick and I to set up at clinic, and Dr. Hisey and the rest of the team to run around and get the operating rooms set up for today’s cases. Today we had three cases planned: a fusion for a patient with spinal tuberculosis, a decompression for a man with lumbar stenosis and spondylosis, and hardware removal for a young girl with severely broken and protruding rods from a previous fusion operation.


In the clinic today, we saw 55 patients in about six hours. Drs. Lieberman and Gorlick assessed, diagnosed, and planned cases for the rest of the week. I loved watching how careful Dr. Lieberman was to ensure that the patients fully understood their diagnoses and that he answered any and all questions they had, despite the language barrier that existed between him and the patients.



Dr. Lieberman and Jason Ash looking over a patient x-ray.



Dr. Lieberman going over a patients’ x-ray with him, making sure that the patient

understood what he saw in their scans and the diagnosis he had come to.


It was awesome having such a full team here today—everything went so smoothly (for the most part)! Operations could happen while clinic was happening, room turnover was quick and efficient, and we were able to move swiftly between each case. This meant for a much faster-paced, slightly shorter day than we had gotten used to last week! We finished up at the hospital around 6:30pm, and we were all ready to go back to the hotel for an earlier dinner. However, we are afraid we might have jinxed ourselves. After the surgery, the third patient woke up fine but then became very agitated, so he had to be sedated. Then he was not breathing well, so he had to be intubated before going to the ICU overnight. After taking care to ensure that the patient was stable and would be watched closely, we wrapped up around 8:30pm. Although not as early as expected, our top priority is of course the patients’ wellbeing and safety, so we didn’t mind staying around a bit longer.



Our busy post-op OR getting turned over and cleaned for another surgery.


Dinner was a yummy buffet at the hotel, followed by everyone sharing their “lesson of the day.” One of my favorites today was when Dr. Hisey talked about how easy it is to focus on the repeat patients that we have seen in the past—ones still with some pain or with broken hardware that needs to be repaired. He said that it is so easy to focus on the cases that did not go perfectly, that we forget to think of those patients that do not return because their pain has been alleviated and are doing well. Dr. Lieberman cited a cartoon drawing that says “A patient cured is a customer lost” and Dr. Gorlick cited an old professor in medical school that said as physicians, “you should work to put yourself out of business.” I loved this lesson and all of these quotes because it reminded the team that for all of the repeat patients we see, there are hundreds more that we do not see again—because we don’t need to! What we did for them in the past really worked.

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