Romania Day 1 2014
Romania Mission Beginnings: May, 2001. 25 volunteers from the United States of America reached Botosani, in the most northern part of Romania, at the border with Ukraine Moldova. They brought medical help and most of all, hope for a better tomorrow for many of the Botosani county natives.
Sunday, September 28, 2015, 7:20 AM – 32 Americans arrived in Botosani with the overnight train from Bucharest, many of whom were here thirteen years ago with the first medical team. While some volunteers are veterans of this mission, the rest are on Romanian soil for the first time. The surgical team boasts one ENT/plastics, one orthopod, one general/laparoscopic surgeon, one anesthesiologist along with their surgical army of nurses and CRNAs. Our clinic has 3 general physicians (2 ER doctors and one CNP), two RN’s, one dental hygiene technician and lots of translators who help not only with interpreting, but also with the patient flow and administrative tasks.
Medical Mission – Day 1
Warm hugs and smiles line the hotel Rapsodia lobby as the team greets old friends, makes new acquaintances and prepares for the day ahead. The team splits up with no time to lose. In just a few minutes, the luggage is sorted for two destinations – the Children’s hospital and the Adult hospital. Hundreds of pounds of medicine, vitamins, clothes, glasses, toothbrushes, and toys are sent to their destination. The doctors and nurses grab coffee while anxiously waiting for the consultations to begin.
First stop – The Botosani County Emergency Hospital (Adults). Again, big smiles, hugs and handshakes. The doctors meet their Romanian doctor counterparts and the team sets up the operating rooms. All the instruments and equipment get unpacked and installed, while our orthopedic surgeon visits the patient ward , planning out the week. The hospital is full of fractures and the surgery schedule filled up fast. The focus of the orthopedic group is a lasting exchange of experience and collaboration with the local group in view of creating a long-lasting relationship.
Clinic: First consults began at around 10 AM. Over 450 people were already scheduled months ago through the Public Department of Health. They knew that in September the Medical Mission will be back in Botosani and they called with questions about this year’s mission. Many are general checkup patients, some want glasses, but most of our patients want to undergo free surgery. “I don’t have any money or medical insurance so I’m very grateful for the free services” said Maria, a 54 year old woman who arrived early in the morning.
After lunch, the team starts their first cases. The General/laparoscopic surgery team performed 5 procedures, mostly hernias, and left the hospital at 9pm. Talk about a long day!
At the Children’s Hospital, a 2 year old boy was operated on as well as a young girl with severe respiratory issues. Our plastics surgeon, Dr. Hechler, has a full schedule ahead of him tomorrow.
A bus full of children came from the Republic of Moldova, traveling 6.5 hours to see the Americans. Most of them wanted to see our plastics surgeon and our orthopedic doctor.
“We hoped that we could find help here” said Maria Gutu, mother of 2 girls who suffered severe burns in a devastating fire. Ana, the youngest of the girls, suffered burns on nearly 60 percent of her body. “After several surgeries, the doctors from Moldova said that they can no longer help. I hope God can help us and the American surgeons could do something for her”, she said.
The day ended with over 200 patients seen at the Clinic, 2 surgeries for our ENT/plastics surgeon Dr Hechler, 5 for Dr Selim and lots of consults for Dr Heddings. All consults and procedures were performed in close collaboration with their Romanian doctor counterparts who have been instrumental in our activity here in Botosani.
As we prepare for the day to come, the team gets some much-needed rest after the very tiring trains, planes, and automobiles trip to Botosani.
Laura Conde & Dumitru Calinescu
Photos by David F. McKinney © 2014