Keeping Paradise Healthy – 2013 Loloma Missions

by Linda Kwasny, Founding Board Member-Project Coordinator

What  a great year we had!  With the help of 86 volunteers, the following is a recap of what was accomplished.

January Navutu Stars mission

Our fabulous dental team treated a total of 422 patients in 6 separate operatories, including the deck of the spa which became the hygiene area.  In all, they completed the following:

Extractions:  258Duell

Fillings:          131

Varnishes:     178

Sealants:        261

Cleanings:      72

Our energetic, mobile general medical team saw a total of 761 patients in a total of 8 different islands/villages.  Each day they packed their mobile pharmacy boxes and left aboard the Dr. Phil Forever boat and arrived late each afternoon, drenched, tired but happy.  Some of the commutes were challenging!

The group of 20 varied in ages from 15 to 68, hailed from various parts of the US, Canada and Fiji and were exceptionally cohesive.  Thank you to the following for your dedication and willingness to thoughtfully get through the numbers of patients each day:

Dave and Heather Nicholls, Lynne Scannell, Liam and Kelly Chambers, Evelyn Chung, Kirsten McCarville, Bob Duell, Joe Hahn, Lynne Calkins, Jacinda Neilson, Michelle Sutanto, Dan Given, James Hart, Neil Kalra, Natalie Thigpen, Teresa Moore, Linda and Rich Kwasny and Joseph Dulunaqio.

March Solomon Islands mission

SurgeryThis is the trip which we bill as the “make it up as you go along” mission because of it’s remote unpredictability.   Actually, it was well-orchestrated on the Solomon side, thanks to Dr. Rodney Talo and everything went incredibly well!  Beautiful weather, smooth sailing and a dedicated, hard-working group added to it’s success.  Our experience at the Kirakira Hospital on the remote island of Makira was productive.  In the O.R., our plastic surgeon and general surgeon kept two tables running with major and minor surgery each day.  There were some life-changing plastic surgeries and plenty of hernias.  Our two O.R. nurses (who have been on multiple Solomon trips) kept everything organized and flowing as usual.

Out in the field, our general medical team traveled each day (in the hospital ambulance) to rural nursing aid stations to conduct clinics.  Makira is incredibly remote and untouched and it was a privilege to work with the hospital staff.  Jimmy and Clay, physicians from the main hospital in Honiara, were flown over to work with our team.  What a great addition!

We were more than well-cared for on the Bilikiki and grateful for the effort everyone made in-country to accommodate our mission.

Our thanks to the fabulous team:

Mark Saroyan, Jerry Murphy, Lance Hendricks, Gerry Schneider, Teresa Moore, Lily Hsu, Bill Jurewitz, Stacy Strah, Jared, Josh, Vida Spotkov and Kapua Meyer, Chis Hawkins and Linda Kwasny.

April Taveuni mission

We returned from the Solomons and went directly to our home base of Taveuni Island to set up for a month of four separate medical, dental and surgical missions. We were happy to settle into our home at Aroha, where owners Dennis and Ngaire take great care of us.

Week One:

Our intrepid general medical team had the responsibility of traveling each day to a remote location to run clinics and screen for the ensuing weeks of cataract and general surgeries.

The team was BUSY!!  In six days, they managed to collectively and very thoughtfully screen 1322 patients in six different Eye Examlocations.  By the end of the week, we had more than filled all the dental and surgical time slots and dispensed a ton of medication.    Weather was great.  Drinks, an evening swim, stories and dinner by the pool was always a welcomed respite from the work.

Womans GroupAdditionally, the Duavata women’s sustainability project began it’s month-long training program with Beatrice Firm directing 12 women on the manufacturing of sulus, woven bags and jewelry.  After five weeks with the women,  we have three stunning, practical products which will debut at the fundraiser on OCTOBER 19TH.

Our thanks to the fun, cohesive and well-oiled machine of a team:

Sarah and Mark Jerome, Amee Amin, Ana Crissien, Jerry Murphy, Janet and Jay McDonald, Bill Jurewitz, Aaron Smith  and Lance Hendricks.

Week Two:

The optometric and Eye Surgerycataract team arrived and began setting their OR and clinics up the day of arrival.  In all, 1005 were screened, tested and given readers, sunglasses or pre-refracted glasses.  Most all on this team are long-time Loloma volunteers.  It’s an honor to welcome them each year.  We also appreciate having Bernadette Ganilau, our Loloma-Fiji board member who comes to help each year and Taveuni resident Ronna Goldstein.  Suva resident Lily Chung also joined the team.

Meanwhile, the surgical team performed 32 eye surgeries with 8 scheduled “no-shows”.  This is the infamous team who passes out really good chocolate to all the recovering patients!

Thank you, eye team for doing your part to restore vision:

Sharon and Tom Rippner, Mike Limberg, Rhonda Hunter, John Garber, Trang Ta, Sally Nettleton, Bruce Smith, Aaron Smith, Lia Guy, Lance Hendricks and Linda Kwasny.

Week Three:

Incoming teams included the Maxillo-facial surgical team and the dental teams.  This week, there were soBabyme incredible, life-changing specialty surgeries performed in the O.R.  In between the big major surgeries, there were minor surgeries done.  Surgeries

moved along seamlessly, thanks to the three skilled nurses who assisted alongside the physicians and in recovery.

There were 19 surgeries performed by the Maxillo-facial surgical team, many of which were life-changing, such as the cleft repair of the two month old child.

The dental team was incredibly busy each day, working with resident dentist Alvin Sidal.  Each day, there were three chairs doing extractions and remarkable restorative work (front teeth).  Additionally, two hygienists worked tirelessly all day cleaning, sealing and varnishing teeth.

For the  week, totals were:

Exam only:  17

Extractions:  214

Fillings and restorations:  107

Cleanings, sealants and varnishes:  73

Thank you, team three, for sharing your skill sets and for your tireless presence:

Andy Softley, Elizabeth Van Nieuwenhoyzen, Krista McGuire, Pat Tillson, Caroline Bennett, Sandy Ratner, Craig Bloom, Sarah Brown, Julie Richards , Jennie Hall, Jeff Dow,  and Lance Hendricks.

Week Four:

Week 4 SurgeryLast, but not least, our small but powerful general surgery team arrived to tend to the overbooked list of surgical procedures, both major and minor.  A hospital ward was shifted and cleared in preparation for the people who would need to spend a night or longer in the hospital.  Without trepidation or hesitation, surgeries began and they worked 11 hour days to get through the list and not disappoint those who had traveled from other islands for surgery.

There were a total of 48 major and minor surgeries performed for the week.  Most importantly, EVERYONE was treated but one person who will return next year.

Not surprisingly,  our dental team was incredibly busy again with resident dentist Alvin working with our dentist and assistant.  Koini, the resident hygienist worked the entire week cleaning and sealing teeth as well.  Our fabulous volunteers never faltered, even on the day they walked in to find the office deluged in 2 inches of water from a leaking pipe.  After they mopped up all the water, the show went on!

This week, the totals were:

Exam only: 39

Cleanings, sealants:  42

Extractions:  86

Fillings:  133

Team Four,  your tireless energy and willingness to do whatever was impressive.  OR team, your humor was a never-ending source of entertainment and brought lightness to those long days:

Judy and Jack Sherman,  Beatrice Firm,  Sarah Williamson, Jeff Johnsrud, Lance Hendricks and JJ Komadina.

Needless to say, it was an incredibly productive year.  We owe this success to you, our volunteer,  who uses your precious vacation days and pays to come halfway across the world to extend a hand to the underserved and gracious people of the south pacific.

About Author: Bob Sykes

Bob Sykes is a founding board member, Treasurer, and Logistics Coordinator for the Loloma Foundation's medical and educational missions, and he also manages the Foundation’s website and public relations activities.