Today marked the first official day of surgery. The team arrived to the hospital on schedule at 7:30am. Most of the morning was spent determining the flow of the space, clarifying the roles of WSF volunteers and hospital staff, and confirming the location of supplies. There was a strong sense of focus and excitement from the team, and every single individual jumped in wherever possible to ensure the operation was ready to go!
Thankfully, patients were pre-screened by physicians earlier in the week prior to WSF’s arrival, and this enabled physicians to begin seeing these patients as early as 8:30am. However, many of the patients did not arrive as early as planned since they commuted from far distances. Specialists are hard to find in this area, and Coron is a municipality of islands, so some people traveled by boat (as much as 4 hours) to make this medical mission. Other pre-screened patients ate food prior to their arrival, which also led to delays since many surgeries require 6-8 hours of fasting beforehand. Since patients were unaware of how important it was for them to not eat before surgery, many were rescheduled for this afternoon. Regardless, the screening of new patients still continued, so the team was able to take walk-in patients during the day.
The WSF physicians on this trip cover multiple specialties, including general surgery, pediatrics, urology, plastic surgery, obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN), and anesthesia. To allow the range of cases to be seen, Coron District Hospital was transformed into a creatively packed OR facility! A hospital originally with one room for operations was transformed into three functional rooms and 10 OR stations: four OR stations in one room, two OR stations in another room, and four OR stations in yet another room. Talk about maximizing space!
The operating schedule commenced at different times by type of case due to delays mentioned earlier. OB/GYN cases started immediately at 8:30am, general surgery followed shortly at 9:30am, and both pediatric cases and plastic surgery cases began at 1:30pm. Even with the ‘organized chaos’ from this morning, there were a few notable observations. First, of all the general surgical and pediatric cases that showed up today, only one case was cancelled because the patient arrived too late – one that was rescheduled for the following day. Second, the team that conducted minor surgical cases under local anesthesia successfully took care of all the 42 patients that showed up to the clinic, leaving no one behind. At the conclusion of the day, the team successfully completed 77 surgeries!
Having observed the physicians and nurses work late into the evening to operate on all admitted cases without a hint of hesitation, I can say that my perspective of commitment to one’s craft was redefined. Congratulations to our volunteers for a successful day 1 of surgery.