The first day of the medical mission was critical: this was the first trip to the hospital site where all equipment and supplies must be organized to support WSF team’s ability to efficiently care for the hundreds of patients they will see over the next 5 days. Because WSF donated a 40-foot container of essential medical equipment and supplies and had it shipped directly to the Coron District Hospital, today was the day that the packages were allocated to their appropriate storage room. “It is essential to know where everything is located before we start the mission to run a smooth operation,” said WSF Travel Coordinator Gilda Cabarlo, who helped with organizing the packages. Witnessing the volunteers quickly unload, move, and account for the 200+ boxes conveyed that this is indeed the case, given that they had to do all of this in the blistering hot Philippine weather! It was exciting to witness this newly adopted hospital receive so many essential supplies donated by WSF that could be used for long-term, quality care for their patients.
Throughout the day, crates of heavy medical equipment arrived that carried items such as two anesthesia machines, an electrosurgical generator, a pulse oximeter, and infant bassinets. Volunteers and hospital staff worked tirelessly to unpack and unload these items.
In addition to the reviewing the supplies that were shipped directly, volunteers also had to account for the bags of supplies that were checked-in via plane by each traveling volunteer. To provide some background, each member of the volunteer team (including myself) was tasked with carrying a bag of donated medical supplies from the U.S. to the Philippines that we had all received by the WSF organizers prior to departure. These 50-pound bags held critical supplies – such as vials of medicine and sutures – for the physicians and nurses. Yesterday, we were stopped at our domestic flight checkpoint from Manila to Coron because the baggage weight limit exceeded the flight we were about to board. Despite an unanticipated fee that had to be shouldered as well as the fact that we were separated from 20 of our bags for 24 hours, our bags arrived safely today and were greeted with enthusiasm!
With only four hours into our first day onsite, I was struck by the creativity of our volunteers to help with the setup of the hospital facility. For example, Dr. Jason Marone, a fourth-year general surgery resident from Enola, PA, and a first-time WSF volunteer, built a cabinet from the leftover wood from crates to create storage for the newly donated supplies. Dr. Marone cited his previous training with family stonemasons and artisans that taught him these skills. Thank you, Dr. Marone!
Philippine OR nurses and doctors from Manila arrived in Coron to assist with this medical mission. Most veterans have been participating in the mission for the last several years, while some nurses were brand new to the mission. Reunions and introductions were made in preparation for tomorrow.
Check back for the next post as the WSF team will begin the official first day of surgery!