It is Tuesday morning in Uganda, and the mission is in full swing. The ORs are full already and our surgical patients line the rail which
serves as our waiting area. It is quiet. There are the very young and the very old. Most are healthy with conditions that need to be treated with surgical intervention. Medical Missions has pre-screened 400+ patients and the schedule is nearly full for the week. There are many medical mission groups around the world, but only a few offer surgical interventions. Medical Missions Foundation is proud that we have a group of dedicated individuals who make these surgeries possible. Here is a glimpse into the people who support this important part of the mission.
Dr. Jill Arganbright, a pediatric ENT has a full slate of cases including several Thyroid removals. She brought her resident, Dr. Naweed Chowdury and they are working together on many of the cases. Dr. Liz Germinder, a general surgeon from Albany, NY and former resident to Tammy Neblock-Beirne, the Uganda mission medical director, is handling cases ranging from breast masses to hernias and gall bladder removals. It is her 2nd mission to Uganda. Dr. Brandon Pomeroy is doing urology cases on children and adults alike. Dr. Dan Ostlie, a pediatric general surgeon, joined the group today and is handling hernias and even some cyst removals. Dr. Mark Hechler, a plastics/ENT surgeon is working solo at Gulu Regional hospital. He has removed ear keloids from twin 23 year old men. The keloids had been growing for years and weighed about 3 lbs each. The surgery will be life changing for these young men.
Medical Missions Foundation staffs 5 ORs and the staff to support the surgeons is large. Dr. Lisa Heath is an anesthesiologist who is supervising Maggie Riffel, a CAA. Together, they are handling anesthesia for Dr. Hechler. Our other anesthesiologists are Dr. Sarah Cassias
and Dr. Carol Gurba. We also have a great group of CRNAs who also provide anesthesia to our patients. They are Amanda Wilson, Elisa Oetting, and Marlene Carnahan. Kara Manning is our student registered nurse anesthetist.
Finally, no mission trip is complete without a nursing staff. The nurses handle Pre-Op and post-anesthesia care (PACU) as well as assisting in our operating rooms. They come from California, Kansas, Utah, Colorado and Missouri. They are a disparate group who come together in difficult circumstances, lacking many of the comforts and equipment that they are used to having in their hospitals back home, but it does not impact the level of care they provide for the people of Uganda. It is hot and everyone works without complaint. They work as a team and are a marvel to watch when they function as a single unit. Mandy Sims, Jody Gould, Nicolette Waite, Jeni Arganbright, Lauren Cooper, and Anne LeRoy handle Pre-Op and PACU. We also have our resident night owl, Kay Johnston. She works the night shift in the ICU caring for the patients who require overnight stays. The OR nurses are many in number as well. They ensure the patients are prepped, assist the surgeons and run back and forth hunting for supplies. Kate Weber, Pepper Card, Tandi Toone, Cassie Yano, Heather Shafer and Peg Lamourie are our OR nurses. Carla Northington is our RN in the burn unit. Mary Smith works on the patient wards and assists the PACU. Aria Witherall and Jess Roth are the Surgical Technologists. They ensure the right equipment is available and sterilized. Sophie O’Neal handles the scheduling, patient tracking and wrangles our surgeons for consults when they have a free moment. Together, these people bond and ensure a successful mission.