State-of-the-Art Holy Family Surgery Center Helps Many in Honduras
Reported by Danielle Jolicoeur, Communications Officer
November 23, 2010
Officially inaugurated in 2008 with a simple cyst removal, the Holy Family Surgery Center (HFSC) that sits across from our public clinic at NPH Honduras' Rancho Santa Fe, is blossoming into an impressive full-functioning medical facility that sees an average of 8 surgeries a week and annual surgical brigades. Still in its nascent stages with respect to the final vision—a busy sustainable surgery center handling daily operations—el Quirófano, as it’s called on the Ranch, provides much needed health assistance at drastically reduced costs to local Hondurans who cannot afford to pay the added costs at the public hospital.
Initiated in 2003 by Dr. Peter Daly, an orthopedic surgeon from the United States, and Reinhart Koehler, the director of Family Services for NPH International, the Holy Family Surgery Center stands as one of the top centers for surgery in Honduras with state-of-the-art equipment. Volunteer, Jason Miller, currently manages the Center. HFSC is at a pivotal and exciting stage with this year’s advancements in construction and licensing, the future goal has never been so close. “We’re really at the onset of the next stage,” says Jason.
Currently it contains two sterile operating rooms, a third optional sterile operating room, and post-operation recovery rooms make up the 5,000 square foot facility. Every Wednesday, Dr. Cerna, a pediatric surgeon from Tegucigalpa who has been performing minor surgeries at the Ranch since 2001, completes six to eight surgeries with the help of our volunteer nurses. The patients come from surrounding communities to receive minor operations like removals of cysts or in-grown toenails, procedures that are too expensive at the public hospital or are inaccessible for lack of adequate personnel and services.
The same is true of the patients who come for surgery during the medical brigades—in many cases, they are poor men and women who have been living with painful hernias, broken bones, and torn tendons whose best chances of healing lie in the practiced hands of volunteer doctors and nurses who come three or four times a year from hospitals in the United States. In Honduras, patients must pay for all of the surgical materials at the public hospitals as well as for specialized surgeries, so when the brigades come to Rancho Santa Fe, the lines for consults are long, and surgery days are longer with so many patients eager to be helped. Dr. Daly’s August 2010 surgical brigade was the most successful yet, completing an astonishing 55 surgeries in four days, of which five of the patients receiving operations were our very own pequeños from the Honduras and Nicaragua NPH homes.
The number of patients served is growing with each brigade as services and materials expand, and the facility is outfitted to handle a higher capacity and more complicated procedures; in addition, more volunteer doctors and nurses are offering their medical services on the brigades. 2010 has been a year of exciting advancements. We completed the lengthy licensing process to be recognized as a fully operational and legal medical center, bringing us yet closer to our goal of a sustainable surgery center with daily surgeries managed by Honduran staff. Various additions over the past months have boosted the Quirófano up into the ranks of top medical facilities in Honduras. A C-ARM machine for live video x-rays facilitates surgeries to be quicker, easier and more reliable, says volunteer Jason. There is only one C-ARM in the public hospital system in Tegucigalpa, the capital city, which costs patients 300 Lempiras (about $15 US) per use. New lights for the operating room, a second sterilizer, and a two-ton pound incinerator for hazardous medical waste are also new contributions that will be invaluable during the next brigade in January.
Jason proudly looks on at all the advancements in the last months and reflects on his first brigade experience back in August. “It’s a really powerful example to see families come down during their vacations and help people they don’t know,” he says. For the Honduran men, women, and children who are receiving treatment, it’s a matter of living well and without pain.
• Peter Daly Receives 2011 Catholic Doctor of the Year Award from Mission Doctors Association