Today is our final day at Santa Ines Hospital. There was one additional surgery performed on this last day. The CORE and nursing stations were rapidly taken down. Detailed inventory lists were created for each bag going back to Canada. Medication was reconciled. Arrangements were made for one of the patients to go to a convalescence facility run by nuns. TNM gave a sandwich lunch for the staff of the Santa Ines Hospital to thank them for allowing us to take over a part of their hospital over the last week. A large number of bags and totes were put onto trucks to be taken to a Rotarian’s home in Cuenca to be stored until next year. Pam and her team were out training 50 Ecuadorians to become trainers in CPR. Dr. Powell was having discussions with the university to institute a program to reduce high mortality by cervical cancer.
As patients were discharged and as final rounds were being done, the patients and their families were filled with gratitude. Some patients and their families even presented small gifts to team members with whom they formed a special bond. We all know that the patients have extremely limited resources and we are touched by their gesture of appreciation. There were many teary good byes.
Patricio, from Esmeralda, ten hours from Cuenca celebrated his sixty first birthday this morning with cake. While team members were by his bedside, he made a beautiful speech. He thanked the team and thanked Canada. He said that we are his heroes and that we are kings and princesses. The sincerity with which he said those words meant a lot to us.
Cuenca 2017 has been the most ambitious mission, completing 30 surgeries. The patients received the highest standard of surgery and care they could hope for. TNM is adamant that the standard of care does not change because we are in a foreign country. In addition, the patients were truly enveloped with kindness by the nurses and physios. This really made an impact on the patients. The local doctor, Dr. Manuel visits and follows up the patients in their homes and villages. He tells us that the surgery the patient receives changes everything. It is not only their pain that changes. He sees the positive effect of surgery on all those around the patient. Additionally, he sees that the patient and their family want to help others as a result.
Each member of the team is so honoured to be able to play a role in improving the lives of the Ecuadorians who otherwise would continue to suffer and be limited in their lives by their pain and disability. Every one of us is enriched by this opportunity. Through this mission many of us experience a “reset” of our perspective. We are so grateful that we are in a position where we can be of help.
Tonight, the surgeons participate in a surgical conference in Cuenca. The rest of us celebrate the success of Cuenca 2017 at Mercato restaurant just down the street from our home for the past 7 nights. There are so many people to thank. Thank you to Dr. Manuel, Santa Ines Hospital, the Cuenca Rotarians and the bilingual Cuenca medical students. A huge and very special thanks to Pam in her 10th year on the mission. Your relentless preparation and passion poised this mission for success. A big thank you to Jordan and Smith and Nephews. The work could not be done without your generous support.
Tomorrow, we leave for Quito. See you in Cuenca next year.