As citizens of one of the world’s most prosperous nations, Americans tend to take many blessings for granted, one of which is access to highly skilled healthcare professionals and advanced medical technology. In stark contrast, access to quality healthcare is sorely lacking in many developing nations. Dr. Christopher Perry of the Toledo Clinic ENT Sinus Center of Excellence recently observed this disparity firsthand when he joined a delegation of 10 medical volunteers from across the U.S. to provide Ear, Nose and Throat medical and surgical training to Honduran ENT residents at Hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, October 15 through 22, 2011. Hospital Escuela is a large 1800 bed teaching hospital serving the poor in the capital city.
Dr. Perry is the ENT Missions Coordinator for Global Health Outreach, a wing of the Christian Medical and Dental Association that consists of doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals who volunteer their services both nationally and internationally. Dr. Perry travels to Honduras twice a year to share his expertise and bring much-needed medical equipment and surgical supplies. In addition to Dr. Perry, two other ENT surgeons volunteered their time and expertise. The Toledo contingent also consisted of Shawn Lutz, a surgical technician at ProMedica Flower Hospital who assisted Dr. Perry in the operating room as well as local builder and investor Barney Schlachter who assisted with logistics and shared smiles and toys with many brave terminally ill children in the pediatric cancer ward.
“We were invited to come to Hospital Escuela to help provide ENT residency training,” says Dr. Perry. “There’s only one ENT residency in all of Honduras, and there’s a vast shortage of ENT doctors in the country. Our goal was to be a blessing to our Honduran ENT colleagues and, hopefully, create a lasting legacy. It was really wonderful to see the excitement in the residents’ eyes as we were teaching them techniques to perform cutting-edge surgery.” In all, Dr. Perry and his colleagues performed 27 ENT surgeries, including endoscopic sinus procedures, ear operations, and head and neck surgery for neck masses.
No stranger to mission work, Dr. Perry has been traveling abroad to serve others since he was a young child—beginning at age six when his parents first took him to Haiti. His mother, a registered nurse, and his father, a “Mr. Fix It Guy,” taught him the value of giving away your time and expertise to help others less fortunate. He has since returned to the impoverished island nation five times as well as to many other countries, including Mexico, Ukraine, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Each time he “pays it forward” by volunteering to assist underserved people; he believes he gains much more than he gives. “Whenever you go to serve others, you always seem to come away with more of a blessing than you gave. It changes you. It’s a life-altering experience,” he explains. “It’s very rewarding to give something back here in the U.S., but there’s something really special about serving in a different country with a different language and culture, different values and expectations, and a different quality of life—even a different value of life—that works a profound change in your heart.”
During the week in Honduras, the ENT team worked closely with the residents to teach them state-of-the-art surgical techniques and provided the essential equipment to perform those surgeries, including endoscopic cameras, monitors, and endoscopes, which were donated by Storz and Ganim Medical, as well as Medtronic shaver blades. A Surgical One microscope-repair technician, who accompanied the team, also repaired three operating microscopes for the ENT department at Hospital Escuela.
Prior to the team’s arrival in October, the ENT department at Hospital Escuela had not had a working operating microscope for several years and had never performed endoscopic sinus surgery with a camera and monitor, significantly limiting the ENT residents’ ability to learn full spectrum up to date ENT surgical techniques. When asked what the mission along with the donated equipment meant to them, one ENT resident said over and over, “I can’t stop smiling.”
Dr. Perry is especially grateful to the Toledo Clinic for its ongoing support of the team’s missionary efforts. He notes that the Toledo Clinic has a long track record of supporting local and international causes, with many other doctors participating in humanitarian efforts in Toledo and across the world. In fact, courtesy of the Toledo Clinic Surgery Center, he already has a large tub full of medical equipment and surgical supplies ready for the next trip to Honduras, which is scheduled for the week of February 5 through 11, 2012. He looks forward with enthusiasm to the team’s return to see how the Honduran ENT residents have progressed and to follow up with the patients they treated. He’s also excited by the mere prospect of being back among the Honduran people. “Honduras is a beautiful country, and the people have such a wonderful attitude and spirit. They’re always smiling in spite of their circumstances. There’s no welfare system there, so if you don’t work, you don’t eat. It’s humbling to see how happy and content people can be without the basic necessities we take for granted, such as running water and working toilets—let alone luxuries like iPad, and iPhone,” says Dr. Perry.
Toledo Clinic ENT is a team of expert physicians and dedicated to providing the highest quality Otolaryngology care in the Toledo.
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