The Team

Stairs with the physios is a right of passage before being discharged. Freddy was a star at learning to maneuver the stairs the correct way.   He even encouraged the next patient to do his best on the stairs. Freddy went home after much heartfelt thanks to the team. Two surgeries were performed. We still have 14 patients on the ward. The CORE has started being disassembled and packed up.

The team is integral to the success of the mission. In addition to the volunteers that are specialists (orthopedic surgeons, orthopedic resident, anaethesiologists, equipment specialist, processors, nurses, physios, and an IT specialist), we have a handful of hard working general volunteers aged 18 to early 60’s. The two youngest general volunteers also serve as translators.

Kaibree is a 24 year old volunteer/translator on her third consecutive mission. She has a Bsc. In Biological Sciencs from U of A, Faculte St. Jean. Currently, she is a privately employed health care provider for a family in Edmonton. Lucky family!

The first thing you glean from Kaibree is that she is clever beyond her years and has a passion for making a connection with the patients. At thirteen years of age, within two months, she went from playing in a softball tournament to using a wheelchair and being in severe pain everyday. She was diagnosed with protrusio acetabuli, a degenerative condition of the acetabulum. Her parents took her to a long line of doctors but no one was willing to help her with a complicated surgery – until she met Dr. Powell. Deb, a ward nurse at the Foothills Hospital and current team member remembers Dr. Powell saying “There is a thirteen year old girl from Edmonton who needs surgery and can you get her a private room. They are such a nice family and I really want to help her.” After a decade, these are words Deb remembers. On January 17, 2007 Kaibree stood for the first time in months in Dr. Powell’s clinic. The look on Dr. Powell’s face will never be forgotten.

In 2015, Kaibree was invited to come on the mission as a translator/general volunteer but also as someone who has a rare perspective and can empathize with patients. She loves sharing her patient history with the patients and encouraging the patients to have fate in the doctors and nurses. Kaibree is a valued volunteer anywhere she is working, from clinic to processing. In the OR, Kaibree knows how scary it can be. At the head of the surgical table, Kaibree explains what is happening, while the masked unrecognizable OR team is buzzing around getting things ready. She comforts the patient and holds the patient’s hand while the patient is being put to sleep. Sometimes Kaibree also prays with them. But her very favorite part is to follow a patient from clinic to surgery, to recovery and to be the face that the patient recognizes in any room. She makes amazing connections. You can see it from how patients light up when she comes to them. Kaibree is starting nursing at U of A in September. She’s not sure whether her university schedule will allow her to come on the mission next year. However, she reassures the mission, “I plan on making this trip a part of my life every year I am able. This trip is the most rewarding thing I do in the year.”   The whole team has no doubt that Kaibree will be an excellent credit to the nursing profession.

Tonight the Rotary Club hosted the whole team at their clubhouse for dinner and dancing! The success of the partnership between the Cuenca Rotary Club and TNM was recognized and celebrated. We had a delicious dinner of chicken cordon blue with shrimp sauce followed by a lively dance to the Police Band. It was hard to take our eyes off the Ecuadorian ladies in their stilettos dancing the “Cumbia, a spot dance” (as explained by our local dance expert, Dr. Dave). These ladies made the Cumbia look so effortless.

It’s hard to believe tomorrow will be our last day.

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