Blue Sky Surgical 2014
Why do we go to Haiti??
Read on my friends and follow our journey and you will know WHY!
When I left for Haiti in June 2012, I didn’t know how strong the call to go back again would be. Spending 7 days in the OR with surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and support staff that I barely knew became a life changing, scratch that, life enhancing experience.
Thirty-four surgeries later we were a TEAM! Dr. Tony, chief surgeon, is our fearless leader. Dr. John is the lead “gas passer”; aka anesthesiologist makes sure everyone we put to sleep wakes up. Cal simply an amazing soul is head of logistics, which translates into he fixes anything and everything. Then there’s me “the breast surgeon” fixing hernias, performing circumcisions and whatever else needs to be done. (Thank God for You Tube to remind me how to perform said operations) just kidding!
As the week goes on I will introduce you to all the members of our TEAM. The first new member of Blue Sky Surgical is my son Dean. He is joining Cal’s logistics team and will excel in this as he has an engineering mind,
Heading to PSU in the fall to study mechanical engineering, this surgical mission experience is just what the doctor ordered. I am not sure the Dean knows exactly what is in store for him but his big bro Tom has convinced him that medical missions ROCK. Having my children share in medical missions has given this work an even greater meaning.
Dean’s track team has qualified for states therefore he will be training for his winter state track meet while we are in Haiti. His distance medley relay has qualified again this year for states. (Last year they took silver!!)
Despite missing an entire week of school last week due to weather, he is ready to head to Haiti to make a difference!
Preparing for the trip this year was challenging and required the intervention of many angels. My June 2012 trip was a chip shot for preparation in comparison. This year I assumed the role of one of the leaders and with that new responsibility came a host of challenges that against all odds we have succeeded in obtaining enough supplies to care for 60+ individuals who are in need of our services.
We will be operating under the non-profit Double Harvest. Our schedule has been set by the local physician in Port au Prince, or so we think.
My initial assignment was to obtain half of the surgical equipment that we require to be able to perform the surgeries. I am so fortunate that I have CEO at Holy Redeemer, Mike Laign, who believes in making a difference n the world. I went to the companies who manufacture the products an asked for their assistance, and Ethicon graciously donated the suture and proline hernia mesh systems through a non-profit MAP. Joe Benonis was my connection in the supply acquisition and he made this process so simple. Despite an initial hiccup, half of my list was missing when I picked up the supplies; all of the materials I needed to provide for our journey were readied for the trip.
Less then three weeks prior to our departure, my colleague Dr. John was unable to obtain the medications that he needed to provide state-of-the-art anesthesia. I went back to Mike, my CEO at Holy Redeemer and angel #1, and asked if HR could possible acquire and or donate the medications that we required. He sent an email and passed the baton to angel #2, Randie Oberlander our pharmacy director. I know Randie through senior leadership meetings and have always felt she had “good mojo”. After two and a half weeks of her being our guardian angel, I can say that she has “great mojo”.
Randie not only ordered the meds, she was instrumental in getting all of the clearances we needed with the DEA. We started this process January 27th and on the DEA website it said allow a minimum of 4-6 weeks. (It’s Feb 9th and you can do the math) Randie introduced me to our DEA angel #3,Jean, who were it not for her personal investment in our mission trip, we would not have the medications that we need to follow through with our trip. I shared my story with Jean and she became our ally and I consider her a member of Blue Sky Surgical as she has been and will be with us in spirit.
Sparing you all of the details, our hospital pharmacy endured a flood, just days before our departure. On Friday the 7th in the midst of the pharmacies clean up I found out that a letter was needed and more forms needed to be completed for us to get the DEA letter. Randie had to write a new letter to the DEA and redo our forms that Julia, my amazing breast care coordinator, had to fax to the DEA. Jean then had to wait fro someone official to break from a conference to sign said documents to allow the letter to be written that would let Randie release the drugs to me. All this was happening during my office hours that were jam packed with patients due to the historic ice storm. My email pinged at 1:35 PM and our ANGEL JEAN came through and the letter was in my email. Randie could not open the document but a quick response from Terry Donovan our computer guru at HR allowed this leg of our journey to be completed.
Suffice it to say that these trips are divinely guided and angels are everywhere all you need to do is ask for their guidance. Friday evening my amazing husband Joe cooked a fabulous meal for our family and friends Brenda and Mark Darling while we were busy reorganizing our supplies and packing our bags. A few hours later I was feeling less stressed about the process when I realized that we had compressed our supplies to fit into eight bags none of which weighed more than 50 lbs.
Dean and I slept at the PHL Airport Marriott as there was a threat of snow and I didn’t want to make Joe wake up at 2:30 AM to have to drive us to the airport. We were on the 4 AM shuttle from the hotel to the departure gate and clearly our huge luggage load was an issue for the other shuttle passengers. I saw one man shaking his head and making a comment that I thankfully could not hear. Some of their bags needed to be placed in the van where we were sitting and I was just waiting for him to make a snide remark. It only took about 1 minute 30 seconds out of the driveway for him to say, “ You people don’t believe in packing light do you!” I replied, “ I always try to pack with a carryon only, but we are on our way to Haiti to perform surgery on individuals less fortunate than we are who do not have access to surgical care. Our bags are filled with surgical supplies. All but the small red bag which is our clothing and scrubs for the week.”
Suddenly we weren’t the ignorant over packers that he had assumed we were and the others on the van made a point of saying how awesome it was that we were doing this. A woman on the van has a son who is working with Operation Smile this summer and ash let us know so as to distance herself from the first gentleman’s comment.
Moral of the story “do not ASSUME as it can make an ASS out of U and ME”. In this case it was HIM.
We met our Philadelphia based TEAM and we are 14 strong. The other 4 members will meet us in Miami for the next leg of the adventure. Our entire luggage is tagged and on the plane and our Blue Sky Surgical TEAM is on a mission from God.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”