“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” (Lao Tzu). Or for the Tanzania Rotaplast team, 9,738 miles to be exact.  And a big step for many patients traveling from near and far today be seen at Clinic Day by the doctors in the hopes that they will be chosen for surgery.  With our luggage arriving the night before, the morning started with all Rotaplast mission members digging into the 33 supplies boxes to get prepped for the day.  Almost immediately potential patients and their families started to fill the intake area.

When it’s their turn, the patient and family will go through intake paperwork with the truly amazing local Arushan interpreters the hospital and Arushan Rotary organized for us.  After the intake paperwork is done, it’s tracked by Alirameen Akram (Medial Records) and a patient intake photo is quickly taken and added to their file.

Minutes later their file is whisked off to the triage station where their vitals are taken to help determine if they’re well enough to undergo surgery.  The whole process can be quite scary for patients and family members alike, so Rotaplast team members take great care in guiding them through the many examinations.

[Pictured: (top) L->R: Jean Petro (Lead PACU Nurse), Neal Fleming (Lead Anesthesiologist), and Bryan Stamm (Pediatrician) review a tough case. Jean Petro reassures a young patient. Salman Dasti (Anesthesiologist) examines a patient. (Bottom): Rebecca Orlino (Anesthesiologist) takes a patent’s stats in a group of doting family and friends].

Next the patients see the Surgeons, who take time collecting the story on the patient and painstakingly examine every angle of a wound, mentally calculating what their surgical strategy would be.  Some patients have conditions they were born with, others have suffered an accident or form of abuse.  All of these elements are taken into consideration, especially when determining what aftercare will look like.

[Pictured: (top) L->R: Jann Johnson (Surgeon) examines and soothes a young boy with extensive burn scars. Salman Dasti, Devi Tantri (Surgeon), and Jann Johnson jointly examine a child with a cleft palate. (Bottom): Devi Tantri examines a patient’s palate. Jann Johnson examines the palate of a young patient being held in her mother’s arms].

The patients will then go see Pediatricians Rene Clement Vreuls and Byan Stamm (pictured below).

As the team decides what cases are safe to pursue with surgery, Medical Director Dennis Dundas and Head Nurse Pamela Dundas create a dynamic, living schedule wall where they calculate different factors into moving around and organizing the mission’s plan of surgical cases.

Finally, the patents who have been approved for surgery on the following day are taken to hospital wards where they can be monitored and properly prepare for the big day ahead.

All in all, an amazingly fast-paced day where many great moments of teamwork and synchronicity were shared to guide (70+) patients through the vetting and onboarding process of the medical mission.  For these patients, their journey of a thousand miles is one step closer.