Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Spine Surgery Mission: Day 3, Wed, July 29th- ‘The real work begins’

It was a 5:30 am start for the ‘brave’ ones as Dr. Lieberman, Lance and Joseph went on a four mile run on the dark and deserted roads of Mbarara. The stars were still shining, the air still, and silent, save for the sound of their shoes hitting the ground and the occasional scrapes of shoes as they try and avoid the numerous bumps and potholes…

By 7:00 am the team was all ready for breakfast and soon after headed over to the hospital for their first real day of work, with orthopedic and plastic surgery cases already scheduled for 8:00 and Dr. Lieberman’s spine clinic (aka “the penalty box”) scheduled for a 9:00 am start.

Dr. Lieberman, Gorlick, and Joseph took some time to come up with a game plan for the day before they headed to their consult room. They were a little taken back by the multitude of patients eagerly and impatiently waiting in the hall. They were off to a slow start as patients constantly walked into the closed consult room interrupting ongoing interviews much to their dismay, but they eventually got the point after some stern instruction and the interruptions ceased. They quickly picked up the pace, seeing about 43 cases for the day, many of them follow-up cases from years past…

Later in the day Joseph, was quickly recruited by Dr. Kerner, in the O.R., to help transport Nadine, a 28 year old burn victim who had just undergone an extensive, 5 1/2 hour, surgery to debride her infected wounds. After some quick planning, and the recruitment of extra hands, they transferred her onto a gurney and prepared to transport her to the ICU. Nadine, was Dr. Kerner’s second surgery patient of the day, the first being a little boy with an eyelid injury sustained from a motorcycle accident.

Meanwhile, Drs. Scharschmidt, Owusu, Fisk and Lubis along with Sherri and Lance worked on their last orthopedic patient of the day, intending to fix his multiple leg and foot fractures which had been sustained from a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) accident. They settled on an external fixation (pins and bars outside the leg) for his femur after discovering a serious, extensive and non-salvageable infection within his lower leg and foot. This had been their seventh case of the day, having also ran a concurrent clinic, seeing 27 patients!

Slowly assembling after all of the groups had finished off their work for the day. The team headed back to the hotel at 9:30 pm.  After ordering a late dinner the team reflected on their lessons of the day. This is one of the team’s daily rituals. A common theme for the day was the importance of resourcefulness in a setting like this, realizing that they should not take for granted all the resources that are afforded to the health care facilities back home and also how much can be accomplished with so little.

Slowly winding down after dinner the team headed to bed, ready to do it all over again the next day…

QOTD: I’m here to pay for my sins- Lance at 05:27 am while lacing up his running shoes.

Runner up QOTD: ‘Have fun in the penalty box’- Dr. Mark Kayanja’s early morning text message to Dr. Lieberman

‘There must be an easier way to get to school’

Dr. Lieberman and Emmanuel reminiscing over pictures from the 2006 mission

The multi-talented ‘Dr’ Lance Philips

Rebecca’s one year follow up, she is doing very well

James, ready for surgery this year

The penalty box’

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