Day 1 of the Operation Walk 2011 Mission began today with an early breakfast and arrival to the hospital by 6:30 AM. Despite what we thought was an early start, every patient scheduled for surgery the whole week was already there, awaiting our arrival to start the preoperative clinic! Many patients had traveled long distances; one patient told me that she had started her journey yesterday evening and traveled all through the night from her small town in the center of the country to be here on time. This struck me as an indicator of how important the treatment we were about to provide was to all the faces sitting in that waiting room -- many arrived limping in pain or were relegated to a wheelchair because of their symptoms. All of us are eager to see them walk out of the hospital by the end of the week under their own power.
In the preoperative clinic, all patients to be operated on for the week were evaluated by the operating surgeon, anesthesia staff, and physical therapists. Any additional testing or imaging studies were determined, and we finally were able to put a face to the many charts and xrays we have been reviewing over the last many months. The clinic was seamless -- largely due to a veritable army of Dominicam Medical student volunteers. Their generous assistance in doing everything from translating to transport, clinical assisting to organizing and obtaining charts was invaluable. There are upwards of 70 (!) medical students participating in Operation Walk this year, a testament to the enthusiasm that has been generated here in Santo Domingo.
(above, one patient is examined by four of our five attending arthroplasty specialists, Drs. Thornhill, Scott, Burke, and Mattingly.)
Following preoperative clinic, the surgical team met for Grand rounds. All patient charts were presented to the group, and a collaborative review of the xrays by the 5 participating Joint Replacement Specialists was undertaken. Operative plans were made, and the fine points of the proposed treatment were elucidated. This event is an annual highlight, as the educational value of learning from the years of experience of our attending surgeons is tremendous. The event is attended not only by Op Walk team members, but also by Dominican students and staff.
After a quick lunch, the operating began. Proceeding right on schedule, 8 joint replacements in 7 patients (one patient had both knees replaced) were done in one afternoon. Residents from the Harvard Orthopadics program (including myself) had the opportunity to work one-on-one with our attending arthroplasty staff, which was again a great learning experience. We all look forward to the whole week of collaboration, learning, and most importantly, care of our patients.