There are a lot of things to worry about on a medical mission. Will we have all the equipment we need? Will there be enough time? The thing I’ve never worried about is whether there will be enough patients. Unfortunately this year, there are not enough patients and we are left with time on our hands.
It’s not exactly clear where the breakdown in communication happened. My best guess is that it was in multiple places. In a perfect world, the government puts ads on the radio and the hospital notifies community health centers. The government pays for transportation from the woman’s village to the hospital. And then the woman makes arrangements with her family and children since she may be away for up to two weeks.
We usually see between 100-150 patients total and operate on between 30-40 women. This year we’ve seen about 40 women and only about 10 of them will need surgery. These numbers will increase before the end of the trip, but not to the usual level.
Despite all the bad news, it was worth my time and effort to be here. I overheard a story of a patient who came back for a post-operative visit and was dry (no longer incontinent). She was so grateful for her surgery because her life was changed. Stories like hers are the reason we do this work.