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Hello, we’re from a far off land and we’re going to show you how to build a fire.

Ma sa’a ch’ool

From the moment we entered the house and were introduced she stood steadfast behind her fire table. It was immediately obvious that this was her spot in the home. Her feet firmly planted on that small spot of dirt floor. Behind her on the walls in that corner were a couple small shelves, and bowls, pans and a few unremarkable utensils all hung within easy reach. She began to build a fire. Or, more accurately, to build up a fire as the embers are probably never really cold here.

The fire table was a simple affair about two feet high and four feet square. Made of rough wood, the six inch tall sides held the bed of dirt that the fire was built on. There were three rocks spaced casually in a triangle against which she leaned sticks of firewood, pots, or ears of roasting corn. Aside from the rocks there was no apparatus, no grate or racks or tools or machined parts, and it was obvious by her spare movements that she was expert in this space with her bare hands and needed none.

She hardly moved a foot in either direction as she watched us begin to work in the opposite corner of the room preparing the space for her new stove. I could feel her anxiety in the air and caught her stealing sideways glances at the new device. How could this possibly do what her dirt table and rocks and her life of fire building skills could do?

As the new stove rose up from the ground as just concrete blocks and then more functional parts and finally a simple but coherent construction that looked like a stove, her fire grew larger and smokier. I was certain that she would have an easier time adapting to it if we had at least placed the new stove in the same spot in the room as her tradition cooking fire – her place of power from which she watched over the comings and goings of the family and others in the home. Literally, her place in the world.

And by the way, now I’m going to cut a hole in your roof.

We were fortunate that it did not rain hard while we were there working in the houses. It rained only once, lightly at first and hard only after we had gone back down to the school at day’s end. For a people who are born and live their entire life under a corrugated tin roof, I can’t image what it must look like to have a stranger come in and suddenly cut a hole in your roof. Living in a tropical climate in a small room with a dirt floor, a leaky roof would be a well-known hazard to avoid.

Depending on who was wielding the tool – anything from a butcher knife and a hammer to a pair of tin snips – the holes were either well shaped ovals with little extra space to be filled by caulking, or gaping gashes requiring generous amounts of caulk to fill. At the end of each installation I wondered how this might be done a little better. But I also marveled at the simplicity of it all and hoped it was a net improvement. We always ended with a prayer, their thanks for giving our time and effort and money to help them, and a fire in the new stove. There was no doubt they were grateful. I’m just not sure they knew exactly what for. Time will tell and the benefits to the children and everyone in the home of ventilating the smoke are without question.

MTI says they plan to monitor the adoption rate and use of the stoves, including maintenance, and I am interested in following up to see what they determine. I think there is room for improvement. But that may only be the rational, square, plumb and level perspective on building techniques where I’m coming from. When I allow myself to stop thinking about it and just feel the experience, what a blessing I have received!

OT Millsap

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Community. Gratitude. Courage.

Reflection from Alex Jackson, chief operating officer, St. Vincent.

I recently participated in an eight day Mission trip to Guatemala with Medical Teams International. A little like the Sisters of Providence in 1856, we traveled to a far-away place with a different language, culture, and traditions. Despite some differences, I found a lot in common – love of family, laughter, joy, appreciation of nature, and the enjoyment from a spontaneous game of soccer with children. I was profoundly blessed by the opportunity to serve with and in the rural mountain community of Chitepey, home to 400 people. This community was underserved – no running water or electricity, limited access to health care, high rates of malnutrition, as well as acute respiratory illness caused by the way food is prepared in their homes – open-pit fires. Our team installed 35 stoves in homes. These stoves not only reduced the smoke, they also are safer and better for the environment since they require one quarter the amount of firewood.

I learned a lot from the people of Chitepey, much of which is applicable to our work at Providence St. Vincent as we transform our models of care to provide high quality, safe care and compassionate service at a lower cost for Oregonians. I offer the following as reflections on my Mission trip.

· Community. I was touched by the overwhelming sense of community. A community is only as strong as its most vulnerable. I saw how this village cared for each other by always keeping an open door to ensure everyone’s basic needs were met, including housing. It reminds me that here at Providence, we have more work to strengthen the community within our hospital ministry – doing this will help us better serve our patients who rely on us on the best and most difficult days.

· Gratitude. The people of Chitapey were so present in the moment and seemed to always focus on what they have, instead of what they want or need. They expressed gratitude in a very meaningful way – by saying thank you from their hearts. At Providence, we are blessed with many resources – an inspiring Mission, a compelling vision, and terrific people of Providence who give of themselves each day. I believe we have all the resources we need to be successful, but we will have to allocate our resources differently to be successful in the new models of health care that emerge from the national legislation. We also need to make sure to say thank you in a meaningful way to each other, patients, physicians, and our families.

· Courage. I was humbled by the courage of the people of Chitepey – to welcome us graciously to their community, but also open their front doors as well as their hearts and minds to us. Even more, I applaud the courage it took to accept a stove into their home. The stove represents an entirely different way of cooking that they have used for many generations! A community leader said that these stoves will not only help them cook and improve health, but they will also change the way they think. As people of Providence, we need to continue to have the courage to open our minds to new ideas, practices, and ways of doing things that are consistent with our triple aim vision – provide national best quality, compassionate service to patients/families all while reducing the cost of care.

We are the ones who are being called to change and improve our health care system. We have all that we need to be successful – a strong Mission that calls us to serve.

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Providence trip to Reu, Guatemala

Today, our team prescreened and examined over 70 patients hoping to have surgery this week. Throughout the process today, I learned that, in a hospital, no one walks anywhere, they move at a breakneck pace and hardly anyone ever sits. The team had to be reminded to stop and have lunch as they were working so hard to set up the rooms and see all the potential patients who had traveled for hours and waited all day to be seen by one of the surgeons. There was a constant flow of people who went to the surgeons for pre-op consultations, or the anesthesiologists for exams and tests to determine whether or not they could be operated on at this time. Some were triaged to the house physician for non-surgical treatment and some, heartbreakingly, were told that they were not candidates for surgery at this time. You could see how affected everyone was by those cases as Sister Colleen and Faith in Practice volunteer Joanne comforted those patients and made alternative arrangements for these patients to be seen at the Los Obres Hospital in Antigua or to receive a different course of action. Our translators were working overtime as they made sure the patients could be interviewed thoroughly and the pre-op instructions were communicated to both the patients and loved ones. The nursing staff and the scrub techs HUSTLED to set up all the ORs, unpack all of our crates, and organize all the supplies. I have never seen people work so fast and so well together, that it seemed more like a choreographed dance. They were truly amazing to watch. Finally, after all patients were seen and we were waiting for tomorrow’s surgical schedule to be generated, one very thin, older patient was came out of his room and began expressing his thanks to the staff for taking on his case. Everyone gathered around to listen as he broke down and was comforted by those around him. It is moments like those that make you realize why we are here. Finally, with the day’s work completed, we headed back to the hotel for dinner. After an emotional day, it was nice to gather together for food and hear the laughter, stories and overall camaraderie from the entire team. With 20 patients on the schedule for surgery tomorrow, it was a quick run to the only room at the hotel with wireless to touch base with family and check email, then off to get some rest for that early start tomorrow.

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Crossing of the teams

Yesterday, the transition from one Providence team to the next took place as the public health team from the Northwest crossed paths with the surgical team from Southern California. Each group’s tasks so incredibly different, and yet they are both grounded in the same spirit of service, compassion and love. Sister Colleen called to mind the continuity of care that occurred between the two groups in the realization that the public health team worked with a family that had had a surgical operation by the very same organization that the surgical team would shortly begin work with. It sent shivers down my spine as I considered the intimate connection of the relationships that had been built in the homes of families from one team and the craft of the surgical team that would provide such healing to the wounds and needs of the very same communities. The mandate of this initiative- to expand beyond our borders to address the health needs and improve the healthcare capacity of Guatemala- is indeed a challenging one. It requires the commitment and skills of many people throughout our healthcare system. It requires the collaboration of many moving parts both within Providence ministries and with our international counterparts. It requires us to understand the needs of our NGO partners and institutions, carefully identifying opportunities for us to share our talents. However, in this short time we have been here, it is clear that Providence staff are both excited and competent to rise to this challenge. There is not a doubt in my mind that this multipronged approach that Providence Health International will take will not only be successful, it will truly change lives. In fact, it already has. In two short weeks, 35 families now have stoves with adequate chimneys and ventilation to help prevent respiratory illness, over 60 surgical interventions will be provided to relieve extensive pain and suffering for individuals unable to afford the healthcare support they need and deserve and 40 Providence employees have learned from and been touched by the people of Guatemala. More pictures and stories can be found on our other bloghttp://faithinpractice.org/blogs-and-media/340

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Our last day in Chitepey

There is something about the eyes of the people we’ve been with in the community of Chitepay. They don’t look away. Even though we could hardly come from more different worlds, I find a mutual searching in the depths of each other’s gaze that transcends our many differences. At breakfast, our team reflected together on our Vision, “As People of Providence, we answer the call of every person we serve: Know me, Care for me, ease my way.” We asked ourselves, “who is the ‘me’ in this vision?”, and wondered if it didn’t point us toward something sacred, hidden in “the least of these”, but shining so brightly in the eyes of the people in Chitepay.

We piled in the van and headed off for our last day in the village. Four stoves remained, so we divided into four teams and marched off in the cool rain to finish our project here. I found myself in the home of a young couple, only 18 years old, with a 5 month old daughter. The home was simpler and smaller than most and the low ceiling of the small kitchen area hit me at about shoulder height. The fire on the cooking table filled the area with smoke and the value the new stove would bring was apparent.The last of 35 stoves to be installed was in the home of Domingo, the “mayor” of Chitepay, who had identified the families in greatest need of stoves and organized the men of the village in work parties to assist. He put himself last on the list, knowing there might not be time for his stove to be installed by the group.

We braved steep and muddy trails to return to the school where the entire community was gathering for a farewell celebration. I will never forget playing soccer with the kids, splashing in the mud and rain, laughing and smiling from ear to ear.

The celebration began with Gladis and Jorge provided translation between English, Spanish and Q’eqchi’. Again and again, the community thanked us for coming from so far away. They were grateful for the stoves, but also for the personal interest in their community. Listening to the Q’eqchi’, one word jumped out again and again: “B’antiox”, “Thank you”.

We all pitched in for school supplies, soccer balls and a jump rope, which we presented to Domingo for the use of the school. To our surprise, the community invited each of us up individually to receive a gift, presented by people we had each connected with. Each gift had been made by hand in Chitepay.

The community asked us to sing a song. We scrambled and Scott led us in a verse of “Amazing Grace”. As I looked out at the community watching in delight and listening to our own words, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see”, something in my heart cracked.

The rest is a blur. We made bright pipe cleaner bracelets for the kids who mobbed us, reaching out their hands, pressing in, so eager for these simple gifts.

Then it was time to leave. “Adios”, “B’antiox”, we heard again and again. It was especially difficult to say goodbye to the children. We each has felt an attachment to a few favorites—usually those kids who “picked” us and followed us from house to house, laughing at our terrible Q’eqchi’.

My tears came easily and my heart ached as we left Chitepay. Even now, it’s difficult to understand why this experience touched me so deeply. It’s extremely unlikely that I would ever see any of these people in Chitepay again, but that’s not it. I have a strong sense of how vulnerable they are—especially the children—and it’s overwhelming to begin to recognize the many forces that put their future at risk. But my tears are about something beyond even this.

We shared with each other the feeling of heaviness in our hearts. The weight of this feeling is from both a sadness and a fullness. We transcended many differences to discover real human beings, people we could love and relate to. People we felt attracted to. People we started to care about in real ways. And while I’m sure Chitepay is a very special village, it’s almost more than my heart can bear to recognize that these same human hearts beat in us all. What hurts, is to realize how invisible the people of Chitepay are to the world and to the powers that be. “Why do these gringos think of us? Even the government doesn’t think of us”, one person asked of our hosts.

We were reflecting on this with our team and Matt reminded us that the people of Chitepay may be invisible to the government or to the rest of the world, but they aren’t invisible to each other. They aren’t invisible to Medical Teams International and they aren’t invisible to us, in Providence now either.

There is responsibility that comes with knowing some of their story, with looking into their eyes, with tasking their corn and laughing with their children. We who have so much power, influence, education and money now face the challenge of sorting out what we do with our heavy hearts.

Entering Into the Homes

We arrived at the community at our gathering point, just outside the three classrooms of the school building, creating a bit of a commotion as some of the children burst from the classroom to greet us. We have become more efficient in prImageeparing to go into the homes, with a group effort to cut the wire mesh that wraps the stovepipes to create a barrier for inadvertent touches by little fingers. Our team was excited to learn it our destination was going to be our first turn in the upper reaches of the community. The walk in to the first home became a hike, with ever increasing effort required as the trail became steeper. It was a marvel to see the steep fields of corn and marvel at the effort it must take to cultivate and harvest the annual planting cycle of corn and beans.

We arrived at the home after our strenuous climb, gazing across the valley at the splendor of the valley of the community. We have come to determine the relative wealth of each home by the little nuances: the siding of the home was either very uneven or had close tolerances, the presence of a little garden or not to create a variety of food, the evenness of the dirt floor, and the number of occupants as measured against the space available in the home. Our first home today was a home of little material means, consisting of an older man, his unmarried 25 year old daughter, and the two children she had cared for since her sister had died some years before. The siding was uneven, the dirt floor required a lot of work to create a level spot for the stove, and there were very few material possessions evident.But we were enthusiastically welcomed as members of the community with a god in common. We went to our by now familiar work, brick by brick, piece by piece, climbing what passes for a ladder to cut a hole in the corrugated metal roof, sealing the hole around the pipe, and topping it off with a “sombrero” cap. Our interpreter then gave instructions about the stove, building the fire as she talked while the open table cooking fire of the day still created a smoky environment inside the home.

We ended with prayers offered by the residents and our team. The father thanking god to deliver us to them and present them with this gift, and we offering that our little gift couldn’t measure the gift of welcome this family had offered us today by welcoming us into their home. Then up the hill some more, on to the next home, and continue our journey.

Day 2

Today was our second day in the village, which also represented a second opportunity to rekindle our new friendship with the community. We looked forward to seeing the same faces that filled our spirits and hearts the day before – we were not disappointed when we heard the names Marco, Aim, Alejandro, Mateo coming from our new friends. After a quick game of soccer, we traversed our way through steep 12 foot corn fields to be welcomed into the homes with warm welcomes. Knowing the stoves would be essential tools of daily living, we took great pride to ensure both the small things like the dirt ground being level to the caulking around the stove pipe water proof. We were humbled by the expression of gratitude as we would leave the homes – prayers, hugs, kisses, prayers, and as well as a live chicken. As we were leaving the village today, we heard a voice translated to say – we hope you never forget us or our village. There is not a chance any of us will ever forget this time for this is a time we have grown in understanding about us by looking into the eyes of others.

First day of work

The team broke up in to smaller groups and, joined by a group translator and stove installation expert, we made our separate ways to the homes of families set to receive a stove. The 20 minute trek from town to the homes of families was a journey past banana, palm, and long-needle pine trees, through a forest maze of 12 foot high cornstalks, along deep chocolate walkways, that rose and fell against almost impossibly steep hills. Everything felt lush and overflowing and alive, but nothing compared to meeting people—families with children of all ages and extended families—in their homes. It quickly becomes obvious that, while the purpose of the work is to install the stove and transform the space of cooking to create a healthier environment for the family and reduce the risk of acute respiratory illness, the real work has very little to do with stoves and has everything to do with the relationship between us as guests and witnesses in the lives of this family in this moment, on this hillside, above this valley… Learning the names of children, struggling to speak a few broken words of hello, thank you, what is your name in Q’eqchi’, all the while transcending the limits of different languages to meet each person where they are, in their home. Many of us shared our thoughts afterwards and talked about engaging with our eyes as well as our words, with our hearts and our hands. Each visit ended with a prayer of shared thanks giving.Image

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Arriving in Chitepey, Guatemala: An Extraordinary Welcome

ImageLet’s just say, we survived the drive to Chitepey. Our driver was very skilled and the roads were narrow mountain roads that jumped and bumped and turned quickly. In this valley town, our welcome was ext

raordinary…a genuine community event to welcome our team. Everyone gathered around the schoolhouse to meet and greet the visitors. A small group of men played drum and flute, and the notaries of the town spoke very kind and prayerful words about our visit, the importance of this work to the community, the people of Chitepey, and about the fact that while we are different people from different places, “we share the same God and this God blesses us all.” The young girls lined up and sang songs, the men mingled, there were fireworks, and the young boys played soccer. It was heart-felt and heart warming and was an expression of the soul of this community. All this was followed by more soccer and gato-gato-perro (or duck duck goose). A real riot of fun for the kids and lots of laughter from everyone else. Play and laughter are part of the fabric of what it is to be human.

Reflection from Matt Volta

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the high valley, corn—twice as tall as any I have ever seen in eastern Washington—stalks the steep hillsides in a tightly planted phalanx surrounding the remote village community of Chitepey.  The tasseled ears are a month away from harvest. There would be many lessons for me in Guatemala.  What corn means to a family is only one.  Everything you see tells you something, tells the story of the land, the people, the challenges of poverty and marginalization.  Snaking the fields are slippery pathways, up and down with hand-hoed stairs in some places and mostly wide enough for our single-file procession to and from our base at the village schoolhouse to the homes of families where we install externally-vented stoves to reduce the risk of acute respiratory infection in infants and young children.  The sound of rain on the broad leaves of corn as we walked through the fields is like nothing I have ever heard. 

In the ancient Mayan creation story, the god of corn made the first humans.  And so, I wonder, what the God of corn said to Lydia, one such young child, as she was gently made and walked into light and life?  Did God speak to her of hunger and work, love and community?  At 5 years old, she is no different and so different from any other 5 year-old girl.  She is bare-footed, full of vibrant energy, curios, playful, shy yet eager to interact with the strangers.  She is one of two girls in a family of 5 children and our team has time to play games that make the kids laugh and jump around.  The children are remarkable and their smiles (as they tell me their names over and over again so I remember and pronounce them correctly) leap from their faces and explode in my heart like bright and colorful roman candles. 

As it does for most of the school children in the community, Lydia’s education will end after sixth grade.  I try to remember what I was learning in sixth grade and whether or not it was adequate to prepare me for the rest of my life; and wonder what would have happened if my schooling, which has been so rich and diverse, suddenly ended abruptly at 6th grade.  How do you channel your innate ability and drive for learning at that age?  Where does it go? There are no cars, no money for bus fare in this family to take kids to the next level of school, never mind the health clinic, both about an hour away.  How will the possibilities of Lydia’s young life unfold?  How much of what I think about is rooted in my own preconceptions (what I want and believe should happen for Lydia) and the tacit privilege that I take for granted?  

In Lydia’s home, there are two beds.  The stove we installed is heating up.  It will lower the health hazards of smoke and soot, burn less wood than an open fire in the kitchen, and just as important save the family some money in the cost of firewood.  Another lesson:  Just because you are in the rain forest, doesn’t mean that wood is an abundant resource. What very little land a family owns is planted with corn, maybe some beans, a few stray coffee bushes, but no trees. Land is needed to plant corn—the fundamental staple upon which a family depends for survival.  What fruit-bearing trees there are seem random.  On these steep slopes, where rain cascades in torrents at times, the hillsides lack the benefits of trees whose roots help to keep the threat of mud-slides at bay.  Lydia’s mother forms a tortilla from masa ground on a sloped stone called a batan.  This is how she feeds her family.  It doesn’t take but a moment to see the bigger picture, although the full realization came much later for me.  There is no electricity, no running water…there is no pantry hiding dry and canned goods, no refrigerated or frozen foods.  Just a handful of plastic utensils and plates for a family of 7; a small jar of oil for the cook top, a few pots.  I look around repeatedly but cannot find food beyond the corn being boiled to make masa.  It is not quaint; not some romantic ideal of a simpler life that one may choose or wish for.  It is poverty.  And, when given the choice between poverty and what is truly adequate (not abundant), I doubt any parent would choose poverty and hunger for their children.  The question of nutrition is secondary to hunger.  Malnutrition is a critical problem that plagues children in these communities.  And while the government supplies the village with a kind of fortified porridge that the kids receive each day at school, it is unclear how this is anything but treading water in the middle of a wide sea.  What happens to a family if their corn crop is poor?  Some families have chickens, but not all do; and in the end, a chicken a day or week to feed a family of 7 is not sustainable (you would need many chickens to make that practical).  The plain truth is far more complex than I had ever imagined:  economic and political systems and structures which perpetuate marginalization and isolation, opportunity truncated by the lack of basic infrastructure (a road that doesn’t get washed out), severely limited access to healthcare, education, the basic goods of the earth—fundamental rights tied directly to the dignity of the human person in Catholic Social Teaching.  The tortillas on the stove are successful and the family prays to bless us and our “gift” to them before we move to the next home.  

The stoves are important, a crucial component in the strategic plan of our partner Medical Teams International, and a driver of transformation to address a serious health issue in a region where mortality in infants and children ages birth to 5 ranks 32nd in the world, where 14,000 children under 5 die each year, and where 48% of children suffer from moderate to severe “stunting” from malnutrition (UNICEF).  The work that our own Providence Health International is doing and will continue in Guatemala, following the “hopes and aspirations” of our Sisters of Providence, is the kind of work to which our pioneering Foundresses committed the energy and passion of their lives.

I see Lydia a few more times before we leave our work in the community.  The whole community turns out to thank and bless us, and to sing us safely on our way home, saying we are different but come from one God. My final memory of Chitepey is of Lydia, running along a small ridge by the school house as our bus pulled away, calling my name “Mateo, Mateo, Mateo.”  And me calling back:  “Lydia, Lydia, Lydia.”  This is the moment I remember, far away and home in Seattle, which causes me to cry through the confusion of joy and sadness, beauty and terror that this experience has broken open in me.

And so, when asked to write something brief about my experience and how it has helped me as a Mission leader, I find no easy answer.  This service trip, so deeply resonant with our Mission as people of Providence, does not lend itself to a condensed message but overflows and resists every attempt to distill a key learning that can be passed on or catalogued.  It is not a question of “having the experience but missing the meaning” (T.S. Eliot), but of a disruption, or a meaning that continues to arrive, unfold and multiply, like the many questions that were raised in our team’s evening reflection time and sharing. 

Sometimes, I think as Mission leaders it is tempting to believe that we will be “formed” once we complete or graduate from this or that program, that our Mission will be integrated and we will lead from that point forward in a new way. The unexpected truth for me is that this experience defies integration, as if integration were to mean that we have dealt with it, are done with it, have appropriated or exhausted it.  Instead, this formative experience has fundamentally challenged my understanding of Mission leadership and dis-integrated my narrow sense and understanding of community, human dignity, poverty, hope, generosity, and charity. 

Our lives are formed across the diminishing expanse of time situated between so many endings and beginnings—abrupt, painful, quiet, joyful:  the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, a first kiss, a deep calling, successes and failures.  These are events that wake us up, throw us back into ourselves, and ask us who we are.

A profound waking moment for me was having my name called by a little girl named Lydia.


M. Volta


A New Perspective


This morning Sister Colleen discussed the importance of perspective. Today, the few of us non-medical personnel on this Mission got an entirely new perspective as we were invited into the operating rooms and later put to work as extra hands to scrub down gurneys between surgeries. I witnessed my first, second and third surgeries as I was able to move from operating room to operating room, then follow those patients to PAC-U (post-anesthesia care unit) where the nursing staff took excellent care of the patients.

OR 1
Yesterday, I spoke to Gretel, a young woman whose husband is one of the cooks at our hotel. She was the first patient for Dr. Patterson, anesthesiologist Dr. Bendebel, scrub tech Alexandra Bierne and nurse Susan Olson in OR1. With a lap choley scheduled, she had no complications, and was moved to recovery rather quickly. With four surgeons and only 3 OR’s, Dr. Biderman was circulating and was kind enough to offer a play-by-play description of the procedure for me as it was happening. One of Dr. Patterson’s last patients was Clementino whose daughter, Valentine, was a patient of Faith in Practice when they sent a team down who fixed cleft palate. Valentine is a year and a half old and has one more surgery to go. He said that he feels good about being here because everyone had taken such good care of his “little princess” when she was here. As they were taking him to the operating room, he had such a huge grin and was so enthusiastic about having his surgery.
In OR2, Dr. Rivera, anesthesiologist Dr. Olson, scrub tech JC Chop and nurse Arlene Howe, they had a patient with a far more difficult lap choley than originally anticipated. The gallbladder was “scared in” with lots of stones, so it took longer than originally anticipated. The crew in the OR worked diligently to successfully help their patient. Their last patient of the day was a far less complicated case. Kimberley Reyes is a 19 year old beautiful young lady who had an inguinal hernia since age 7, but had been causing her a lot of pain since age 15. She told us she is going to school and working taking dictation. Her surgery went beautifully and her mother expressed such gratitude it brought tears to the staff’s eyes and was a good end to the day.
Our most predictably complicated case of the morning was the elderly gentleman who broke down in the waiting room last night because he was in so much pain and so grateful to receive the surgery. He was in OR3, a tiny operating room Dr. Morrow, anesthesiologist John Nguyen, and nurses Lynn Miles and Karen Rice crowded within along with Dr. Biderman used every inch of that space. I did not think there would possibly be any room for me to fit, but they welcomed me in and explained what they were doing throughout the surgery. They also provided some excellent learning opportunities, explaining that he is “a little guy who had a very large hernia” and at 77 years old and only 87 pounds, the surgeons were most concerned about this gentleman and still had successful results. In the recovery room, as he woke up, he said he was in pain but he knew he would be ok.