NuVasive Spine Foundation’s Latest Mission Trip: From a NuVasive Volunteer perspective
September 10, 2018
I had the opportunity to volunteer with NSF on a mission trip in Honduras in September, and when I sent out a request for sponsors, our Development Engineering team helped me reach my fundraising goals. As the recruiter for strategy, technology, and corporate development, I talk to candidates daily about projects the teams are working on and how we at NuVasive are “Changing Patient Lives Every Day” through innovation and technology in spine. During the mission trip, this became very real for me. I saw patients come into the clinic in pain, then following a decompression or spinal fusion, they were up and walking around after just a few hours later.
As the mission trip photographer, I had the opportunity to photograph the activities within the surgery center and around Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Ranch, where we stayed during the trip. It was exciting to observe the spinal procedures and watch the surgeons and neurophysiologist using our tools and systems—which is a totally different experience than in our cadaver lab! Being able to view cases both from the clinical side and the patient side was incredibly impactful. I felt all of the emotions of the patients and their families during clinic and pre-op, the excitement and determination of the surgeons and clinical teams in the OR to help the patients, the calm and care the nurses provided during post-op, the rush of the scrub techs hurrying to clean and sterilize instruments for the next procedures, and finally the rewards with the surgeons and nurses when they would check on their patients to make sure they were up and walking comfortably.
A little bit more about the mission—there were approximately 20 volunteers from across the U.S., both clinical and non-clinical. NPH houses 250 children, a farm, various schools (including 7 vocational schools), and a church. When we weren’t volunteering in the surgery center, we helped in the kitchens to make meals for the volunteers and children, out on the farm harvesting vegetables, read books or did chores will the children, and worked in the “tortilleria”, or tortilla bakery, making corn tortillas from scratch.
This was the first time Holy Family Surgery Center of NPH Ranch has ever had a spine brigade. This was exciting for each and every one of us! All in all, 121 patients were seen and 18 patients had surgeries. The clinical team provided over 125 hours of training to the local team in Honduras. We even helped to unload a truck full of much needed medical supplies on the last day that arrived unexpectedly. This experience has truly changed my life, and I look forward to returning to Honduras on another mission trip next year!