Final farewell

(More pictures will be added soon…)

All surgeries are complete by early afternoon on Wednesday and some of the doctors/surgeons offer teaching seminars to medical students on floor 5 of the hospital (orthopedics, anesthesiology, and oncology are the topics). As well, CPR has been rescheduled from Thursday am to Wednesday 1pm for the approximate 60 medical students attending.

True North Missions Society purchased sandwiches from Subway to be served to the Santa Ines staff from 11:30 to 12:30 pm – a thank you from us to them for their patience and assistance throughout the week.

Wednesday is supply/instrument packing day for the OR nurses and volunteers. The organization of instruments, implants, equipment and supplies is a monumental task led by the charity’s long time valuable volunteers, Gail Evans and Jordan Wood. Gail’s husband, Ken Evans, is also very much involved, behind the scenes, in the packing, weighing and transport of equipment before the mission. Gail and Ken also provide storage for the equipment/supplies in between missions. These individuals and their families have all given up a great deal of their personal time over the years in the organization and preparation for each mission, not to mention the execution of the missions. Specifically, in addition to being the charity’s OR nurse (Board Nursing Liaison), Gail arranges and documents the team list and furthermore, itemizes all supplies/instruments – they are inventoried beforehand, allocated out to volunteers in labelled and tagged hockey bags/totes, and then re-inventoried in that last afternoon of the mission to ensure we know what we are bringing home and in which bag/tote it is stored. Jordan arranges, itemizes and tracks the inventory of implants and helps with preparation of all items for transport.

Additionally, another of our long time core volunteers, Pam Railton (RN) has remained a key organizer of the mission (and fundraisers). In addition to ordering equipment for and offering the new CPR program and helping out with equipment/supply planning, Pam arranged airline bookings this year for the team and generally arranges the itinerary for the True North volunteers (including transportation, activity and meals). It is not a small task to look after 37 volunteers for the week!

In the evening, the team is invited to a traditional Ecuadorian dinner compliments of the Rotary Club. There is a speech from the president of the Rotary and a response from Dr. Powell. Dinner, music and dancing. A very enjoyable evening to finish off the mission.

Thursday is the ward walk and final goodbyes to the patients – we are leaving them in the capable hands of local doctors, including Dr. Manuel Avila, who will ensure the patients have all necessary follow up care.
There are tears. Both patients and volunteers. We wish these patients all the best in their lives as they regain physical mobility and the mental wellness that comes from new hope.

By approximately 11:20 am all bags are loaded, the hospital bill is paid and and everyone is on their way back to the hotel to catch our 12:00 pm bus to Quito. The bus ride is a change in travel plans due to cancellation of the domestic airline (LAN) flight from Cuenca to Quito. The re-arranged transportation is not an entirely bad thing – the 10 hour ride through the mountains is ‘forced relaxation’ (quote from one the doctors) following a very busy week. The views and scenery are spectacular.

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