When we heard about the medical mission trip that Shannan Case and Jessica Ginn went on, we knew we had to include them in our CRNA Week series: Super Heroes. Wow! The things they experienced are, well, we’ll let you make your own opinion on that. Here’s there story:
During our first medical mission trip with Drs. Ed and Olivia Cabigao, we were truly blessed with an opportunity of a lifetime. After many obstacles including a gunman in LAX, a delayed flight for two days, an 18 hour flight, and just dodging the Super Typhoon Yolanda, the people of Baliwag, Philippines welcomed us with immense hospitality. The hospital and surroundings were far from anything we had ever seen. The area was poverty stricken and the hospital was functioning on bare minimum supplies. The anesthesia machine consisted of a five liter flow meter, APL valve, CO2 absorber, circuit, reservoir bag, H cylinder oxygen supply, and scavenging out of the window. There were no ventilators in the entire hospital. The OR was set up for two simultaneous surgeries with only one suction for the entire room to be shared by all. The only air conditioning in the hospital was in the OR, which was a window unit. Bare necessities included betadine soaked cotton balls for surgical prep, non-adjustable operating room tables, one main OR light and a stand alone light for both operating teams. We provided general and/or regional anesthetics for a variety of surgeries including hysterectomies, thyroidectomies, cholecystectomies, hernia repairs, several mass removals, an orchiectomy, GI endoscopies, and a nephrectomy. We also did a few pediatric patients with the youngest at five years of age. They were the bravest; IV’s were put in prior to induction and they walked to the OR table without even a whimper. Patients recovered in a room with no continuous monitoring capability, H-cylinder oxygen supply, and a window air conditioning unit. Few of them requested pain meds or antiemetics. Surprisingly, the majority of the patients were relatively healthy. We had a great team of medical professionals that all worked well together in providing a service to an area in desperate need of medical care ranging from health screenings to major surgery. Even though the conditions were less than what we in the United States would consider acceptable, we feel it was an inspiring trip and, hopefully, the first of many more.