The tenth installment of the May, 2015 Loma Linda University Health Orthopedic Team visit to Nepal.
All of our team members made it safely back to California several days ago, in fact Elaine Lewis is already back to work in Haiti. All in all, it was an amazing trip one that we will long remember. Since our return, team members have been privileged to give several interviews and presentations which will hopefully translate into more donor dollars funneled into the Nepal relief effort.
Our goals for this venture were to provide orthopedic surgical services for the quake victims, administrative disaster support to Scheer Memorial Hospital and hopefully play a role in fundraising for the hospital. Looking back, we largely accomplished all of our goals but like most volunteer excursions, we all feel that we probably got more out of the experience than we ever gave. However, we would like to recognize several key individuals without whom our trip would not have been nearly as successful.
First and foremost, we would like to recognize Jerry Daly (third from the left) who is the Associate Director for the Global Health Institute and Assistant Vice-President for Global Outreach at Loma Linda University. We have worked with Jerry on numerous occasions in the past and he and his team always perform miracles for us when it comes to gathering the equipment we need and facilitating our travel arrangements.
We would like to thank the canteen staff at Scheer Memorial Hospital (SMH) who provided delicious home-cooked meals for us at nominal cost. Favorite breakfast items included omelettes and freshly baked doughnuts.
A classic Nepali staple is rice (bhatl) and lentil soup (dal) with curried veggies and tomato achar. If you want to eat it like a traditional Nepali, mix all of the aforementioned items together and proceed to eat the meal, all with your right hand! This particular meal is considered acceptable to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We were truly grateful for the canteen chef’s contribution toward refueling our team each day.
From a gastronomic standpoint, anesthesiologist Steve Mulder is the absolute ideal companion to have on a trip like this. Before departing the US, Steve cleaned out his local Trader Joe’s and brought a literal suitcase full of nuts, granola, almond milk, vege chilli etc. Here is one of Steve’s classic breakfast offerings, fresh papaya and almond milk over TJ’s granola.
Dale Mole, third from the left, is the relatively new CEO of Scheer Memorial Hospital (SMH). Recently retired from the Navy as an emergency medicine physician, Dale and his wife elected to forego a life of leisure and move to Nepal. We were impressed with Dale’s management skills and are very optimistic about SMH’s future under his leadership. Anyone who has spent weeks on end in a submarine and an entire year at the South Pole is ready for the challenge that lies before him in Banepa.
SMH Orthopods Prameed Pilli on the left and Anuj Raj Bijukchhe were gracious hosts and we all worked well together to manage patients in and out of the operating room
Anesthesiologist Ramon Ruiz, pictured with his wife Linda, provided our patients with efficient and compassionate care in the operating room
Laxman Thapa on the left and Sita Ram on the right, were both young men working in the operating room when I first visited Scheer Memorial Hospital in 1995. Laxman is now working as an anesthesia tech in the operating room and Sita Ram works as a technician in the emergency room.
Deepak Shrestha is the Chief of Orthopedics at Dhulikhel Hospital just a few kilometers from our home base in Banepa. Cognizant of the huge backlog of cases awaiting his staff, Deepak fully embraced our team and gave us our own room to start slogging through the caseload. The banner image above was taken at Dhulikhel Hospital where we were grateful for their hospitality between cases.
Scott Nelson on the left getting ready to leave for Dhulikhel Hospital bearing the gift of a new DeWalt surgical drill/driver purchased from our local Home Depot along with a specially designed sterile cover. The combo works almost as well as a similar item we would purchase for several thousand dollars back home. Scott posing on the right with All-Star scrub tech Roshni who exhibited technical expertise far beyond her 24 years of age and amazing poise in the operating room even during a 7.3 trembler!
One of the tangible contributions to Scheer Memorial Hospital (SMH) that we were able to make were the trays of surgical gear donated through the efforts of Jerry Daly and the Global Health Institute. Orthopedic surgery is such an equipment-intensive specialty so we were grateful to provide these new tools for the SMH ortho team to utilize.
Finally, we’d like to give Etihad Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Arab Emirates, a shout-out for getting us safely to and back from Kathmandu. We landed and took of from a compromised Kathmandu airport without incident and were treated royally in flight. We were fortunate enough to score seats behind the bulkhead between business and economy class which afforded us extra leg room along with power ports for our phones and computers.