The Mercy Outreach Surgical Team (MOST) recently provided more than 300 reconstructive surgeries and procedures for 215 patients in the city of Tula, Mexico.A team of nearly 45 physicians, nurses, recovery team members, translators and Rotarians provided a range of procedures, from a simple repair of cleft lips to complex flap rotations for burn scars with three operating rooms and six operating tables.
Established in 1988, the MOST program originated when a group of nurses and doctors from Scripps Mercy Hospital formed teams to travel to Mexico to treat children with various deformities.Since its inception, more than 5,000 patients with almost no access to health care have been treated by the MOST program.
Twice each year, volunteers fly to Mexico and spend one week in late November operating on children who have been brought in from the impoverished countryside.Often, these pediatric patients have deformities, such as cleft lips and palates, which cause them to be separated from society.Due to physical and speech impediments, some of these children are abandoned or kept home from school.The medical procedures provided by MOST not only correct a patient’s physical deformity, they allow the child to integrate back into their communities and live a normal life.
“One of the greatest rewards of the program is that these procedures provide immediate results to patients and their families.” says Thomas Vecchione, MD, a plastic surgeon at Scripps Mercy Hospital and MOST board member.“It’s often overwhelming for families to look at their child the first time after a procedure. In these moments, there are lots of tears and the emotions are palpable to everyone in the room.”
While there are many such medical volunteer groups around the United States, MOST has a unique partnership with the San Diego Rotary Club (Club 33).Club 33, in turn, partners with the local Rotary Club in the town where the mission takes place.Twice a year, the Rotary Club scouts appropriate locations, politicks for local support, and provides financial assistance. Additionally, the program involves local physicians and providers so that they may develop and sustain medical programs in their community.The ultimate goal of MOST is to establish self-sufficient programs in Mexico.
- Kristin Reinhardt