Calceta, Ecuador. October 2016


 The 2016 campaign of “Cirujanos en acción” and “Hernia International Foundation” has been successfully carried out from 2 to 12 October 2016 at the Ecuador Public Health Ministry Hospital of the San Agustín de Calceta province. The initial plan was to have carried out the mission in the amazon region of Ecuador in the San Francisco de Orellana Hospital between 2 and 14 October 2016. Owing to bureaucracy problems alien to our NGOs, that initial plan was postponed when we had already bought and organized all the flights and personal logistics, so that we had to work hard together in order to plan out our mission all over again. Since October 14th was the day for the team to come back, and the 13th is a local feast day in the city of Calceta the surgical mission was limited to 8 days. As a complement we were offered the possibility of working in the Mobile Surgical Unity of the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas Hospital, and so we worked there on 7th and 8th October 2016 with full success and satisfaction.

The working team members have been in order of age: Dr. Leopold Mitterger (Austrian retired general surgeon), Dr. Alejandro Unda (retired paediatric surgeon from Ecuador residing in Spain), Dr. Paul Wilkins (British anaesthetist residing in Australia), Dr. Francisco Gomez (infirmarian from Spain), Dr. Cesar Ramirez (General and digestive surgeon from Spain ), Dr. Ana Sepúlveda (anaesthetist from Spain), Dr. José Luis Guerrero (General and digestive surgery, from Ecuador residing in Spain), Dr. Olga Morató (Genera and digestive surgery, from Spain). The coordinator and responsible person for the organization of the mission was Dr. Cesar Ramirez.

 The Calceta Hospital is a public hospital belonging to the Public Health Ministry of Ecuador which has two operation theaters and a room for childbirth, plus about 90 beds with an average use of 90%. The city was affected by the earthquake of April 2016 and it has a high unemployment rate, so that offerings of health and social work are always welcome. This was the first time they hosted a mission from Cirujanos en Acción and Hernia International Foundation, and the organization on behalf of the medical hospital direction and the local health authorities has been excellent. They set up two marquees  for the reception and classification by two local doctors of Primary Attention sent by the District Office. Once the patients were seen to need surgery they were examined by our team in another marquee. Facilities for the analytic and preoperative study (which took place in 15% cases) have been high, as well as the organization of subaltern staff for shifting the patients. We’ve had a full operation theatre at our disposal every day, in which we worked simultaneously on two tables from 8 to 18 hours; the time was limited because of the need to coordinate with the timings of surgery staff of the hospital, since at least 3 nurses were always at our disposal. We had carried with us more than 100 Kg of medical and surgical material, including all the meshes and suture that have been used up, as well as syringes, needles, catheters, local anaestheticals, gauzes, compresses, surgical sterile operative fields, anesthetic medication, antibiotics and anaelgesicals, and finally three sets of surgical material entirely new for hernia surgery, two for adults and one for children. As the initial calculation was for 200 patients we gifted the remaining material fo the Calceta Hospital.

The collaboration from the part of all has been excellent, particularly from the District Director Dr. Julio Mejía, the Medical Director of the Hospital Dr. Don Christian García, and the Medical Directress of the Santo Domingo Hospital Dr. Kathia Tinizaray. I also would like to single out the great help of lady doctor Jennifer Zambrana, the queen of Calceta and all her family who have helped us in our getting places in the University Residence of Calceta and in our moves through the city at any time. Local media, radio and TV, have daily reported on our work, which has spread the news of our presence there so that we have been able to help a larger amount of patients.

On the whole 125 interventions have taken place in 8 working days, and our satisfaction to have achieved our aim is great. The collaboration of all the members has been very high, with a great team-work spirit, and I can say that the dynamics of personal relationship have been very good so that we have enjoyed ourselves and we have greatly enriched ourselves. The weekend on 8 and 9 October we visited the so called “World’s Half” and the city of Baños de Agua Santa with its spectacular geography: Río Bamba city, Pailón del Diablo and Chimborazo volcano.

I has been a great work and a good team, and we have worked in a place where there is real need and a great possibility for help. The great collaboration we have all received from all quarters and personal of the Hospital (so that a real feeling has gone beyond the purely professional activity) lead me to propose this hospital and its city for future missions of Cirujanos en Acción and Hernia International Foundation.

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