On November 1, 2015, a 20 person brigade of ENT doctors, nurses, medical students, and an audiologist departed from the United States will travel to the rural city of Catacamas, Honduras. Catacamas is a community of approximately 40,000 people located in the Honduran Department of Olancho. The local population is served by a recently constructed Catholic hospital, Hospital Santo Herman Pedro. There is a severe shortage of specialty physicians in Olancho. The ENT brigade will work at the hospital for five days performing outpatient clinic evaluations, surgical procedures, audiological testing, and fitting of hearing aids. 

Check this story out from our last brigade...

Cardinal Glennon brigade goes forth to serve with love!

In Olancho, Honduras—a sparsely populated and a vast rural and heavily forested area—is where you will find Alan Wild (MD, Department of Otolargyngology at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center) and his brigade of medical volunteers for one week a year. Alan Wild, MD, and his team have responded for the last eight years to an inner call to administer to the less fortunate in need of quality medical care. They raise their own funds to traverse across borders to care for patients in the Olancho area.

The endeavor originated about 15 years ago from the efforts of an Irish Catholic Bishop from Boston serving in Honduras. Over the years, the program has grown, due to the good fortune of a confluence of United States and Honduran private, governmental and diocesan investments of funds, equipment, and talented volunteers. Today there stands a hospital equipped to admit approximately 100 patients. Unfortunately, the hospital only thrives when the U.S. brigades from other hospital networks come to town for a week; on average about 20 per year. Otherwise, the local staff of about 40 nurses, custodians, and secretaries provide a minimal level of care with an unsecured, annual payroll of $500,000. Unpaid staff furloughs are common between brigade visits.

On arrival, Dr. Wild and his brigade travel with local escorts for 4.5 hours by bus to the hospital compound. Onsite, they are well provisioned with a large store room of functional equipment at their disposal. Tumor resections, hearing tests, hearing aids, ear and sinus surgeries, tonsillectomies, and other minor surgery keep them busy 10 to 14 hours per day. Even though the days are long, Dr. Wild explains that the joy of practicing “pure medicine,” free of intensive compliance requirements, is rewarding for the team. They provide care for a high volume of patients who often travel more than a day by bicycle, bus, or even hitchhike, to reach the hospital.

The team’s skilled touch not only heals, but changes lives. One patient, 15-year old Gustavo fell off his bicycle and sustained horrible facial scarring; a condition referred to as keloid scarring. After receiving plastic surgery from the team, Gustavo returned a year later with his facial scars much improved. He proudly shared that he had a girlfriend, a job, and that he was no longer a social outcast. Between tears, he expressed his gratitude to the team that turned his life around.

“The world keeps changing and new challenges arise,” explains Dr. Wild. The challenge with this health care model is clear: the absence of sustainable funding and resources. Without consistent government, diocesan, or private support, service delivery is entirely dependent on these courageous brigades of doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, residents, and medical students who unselfishly volunteer their time and resources. Dr. Wild is proud of his team and the tireless work they do. He shares that “it is a privilege to be among the countless Americans whose unprecedented benevolence and consistent generosity of care and compassion are given so freely throughout the world.”

In union with the journey of the founding Sisters of Saint Mary since 1872, the spirit of meeting the dynamic and changing needs of our time lives on in Dr. Wild