This is a new site for Rotaplast, and though it’s a beautiful new hospital, there were expected and unexpected challenges but nothing the application of creativity and determination couldn’t fix. The surgeons and anesthesiologists adapted the OR to their liking, met several Colombian nurses and “scrubs” (the plastic surgeon’s partners in the surgery), and clarified procedures and terminology. With two languages, an interpreter is on duty all the time.

Our community here includes the pre-op roomful of patients and families (50-60 people), 5-10 doctors, nurses and staff that work here, our team of 28 doctors, anesthesiologists, speech pathologist, pediatricians, dentists, recreation therapists, pre- and post-op assistants, nurses of various sorts, a sterilizer, a quartermaster and me, the photojournalist. We’ve taken over rooms for clerical, pre-op, post-op, 2 OR’s with three ‘beds’, speech pathology, supplies and last, but not least, the sterilization room. Not all the patients are here every day, they only come from their lodgings on the day of surgery. We share the waiting room with regular hospital patients.

Adding to the energy of the day was the World Cup match with Colombia battling England. Futbol is a very popular sport in Latin America. Well, Colombia is no exception and our community was ready. The soldiers that have been accompanying us, joined the excitement and we all watched together. Some tried to work but the noise was deafening. Only those actually in surgery missed the game. Unfortunately, despite our collective enthusiasm, Colombia lost in overtime. These are such wonderful people and, of course, they maintained their pride of country.

It was a long day. After lots of problem solving by our team, crying children, hungry patients, worried mothers and fathers, loud soccer fans, we got back to the hotel around 9 pm for dinner. Socializing was short and dreams were sweet that night!