Day 6: Innovations and Iowa MOST

In order for any project to thrive for the long-term, constant revisions and innovation must take place.  Iowa MOST is a project that has been adept at this, and has therefore been able to add new medical services as well as outreach to the scope of the project when it makes sense, and stay relevant to the community we serve.

A wonderful example of innovation this year was the addition of tonsillectomies to the surgeries performed.  On screening day, one of the doctors came to Dr. Daniel Jorgensen, who is a partner in private practice in Spencer, Iowa and is on his 6th mission trip with Iowa MOST, and asked if he would be able to perform a tonsillectomy on a young girl who was experiencing sleep apnea and was discovered to have very enlarged tonsils.  Dan agreed to do the surgery if a local surgeon would commit to handling the post-op care should any follow-up be necessary; if bleeding or other problems arise, it is most likely going to occur within a week of surgery and so Dan wanted to ensure patient care after the departure of the Iowa MOST team.

Dr. Daniel Jorgensen

Dr. Dan and Dr. Almilcar in surgery with the suction cauterization tool

At this juncture, the Rotary connection made all the difference!  Dr. Oscar Marroquin called fellow Rotarian (also of the Club Rotario Huehuetenango) and surgeon, Dr. Almilcar Velasquez Pinetta.  Almilcar immediately agreed to help and asked if he could attend to assist and observe with the surgery.  The surgery was scheduled for a few days later and while there was sufficient equipment for the tonsillectomy, Dan had an idea.  He asked Ruben Zuniga, who coordinates the sterilization of all the surgical instruments, to see if the right materials were on hand, and then Dan and Ruben assembled a suction cautery instrument so the surgery would be more efficient than using a hand cautery piece with someone else auctioning separately.  Dan earned himself the MacGyver title for the team and Almilcar was delighted and excited to see the instrument put to use.

The tonsillectomy went smoothly, with Dr. Dave Swanson and 4th year resident Anna Riessen handling anesthesia; while Paula Sauceda was the scrub nurse and Brandi Seitz worked as the circulating nurse and valiantly handled the suctioning machine, which was a little finicky but got the job done.  Another tonsillectomy was performed the next day as well and Almilcar joined Dan for that one as well.

When discussing the tonsillectomies, Dan mentioned he realized after partnering with Almilcar and seeing his genuine enthusiasm and excitement to expand his own medical practice knowledge, that it is easy to take some things for granted.  After the first surgery was complete, Almilcar called his wife and then his mother because he was so happy to have learned about the suction cautery instrument.  And Dan plans to bring one with him next year, though it’s nice to know he can always make one in a pinch!

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