The first order of business on a Rotaplast mission is the all-important pre-operation clinic. While it's our first contact with the patients, it takes months of planning by the host Rotary organization to have it run smoothly. Fundación Sonrie, based in Pereira, maintains a database of all patients to track their progress through multiple surgeries, orthodontics, and speech therapy that may be necessary for optimum outcomes for children with cleft lips and/or palates.
Club Rotario Perla del Otun mobilized an impressive staff of 23 Rotary, 2 Rotaract, 1 Interact and 8 translation volunteers. Our mission also made the news with onsite interviews from 4 television stations, 2 newspapers and 3 radio stations.
All patients and their families gathered on this tropical morning at the Colegio La Anunciación. Our Rotaplast team was in place and ready to evaluate each child. Stations were arranged for medical records intake, chart photos, and evaluations by surgeons, anesthesiologists, and pediatricians. Local orthodontists and speech therapists were also on hand to complement our specialties.
This mission is different from most because we are focusing more on maxillofacial repairs. These involve highly complex adjustments of muscle attachments and facial bone structures. Procedures of this type can take up to six hours of meticulous work by exceptionally specialized and skilled surgeons.
Ancillary to the Rotaplast environment was another very interesting specialty of myofunctional therapy. This was staffed by Colombian doctors Lina Maria López Soto, speech therapist, and her sister Patricia López Soto, dentist. Electrodes attached to the face feed information that measures the balance of muscle activity on left and right sides of the face and the strength of muscle activity. This facilitates creation of specific therapies to improve speech, chewing and swallowing.
At the end of the day, head nurse Jodelle Myhre and the medical team created the surgical schedule that will accommodate our patients with maximum effectiveness of our staff and resources. What that means is… we're all set to go early tomorrow morning.
Jerry Meshulam, Photojournalist