We greeted each other with Happy Fourth of July first thing this morning. Calmness and order characterized most the day. We seem to have our rhythm now. Each day we get more organized and comfortable at the hospital, Clinica Panamericana.

This mission is very lucky to have a very special opportunity, one never available to Rotaplast before now. Our speech pathologist, Susan Whitaker, an experienced Rotaplast volunteer (5 trips so far) had a dream over 10 years ago that the Rotaplast missions should acquire and use a portable naso-video-endoscope.

This equipment can visualize the moving palate during speech to see how the palate is moving, before surgery. The unit is a combination of scope, camera and light-source attached to a computer so the exam can be saved and replayed for the patient and surgeon. She has been using one of these in her practice in Redding, CA since 1990 and it represents the highest standard of care.

Susan was inspired about this for some time before committing to making it happen. So she started saving her Rotary Club’s yearly donation (with the club’s support) and when she became President of the Rotary Club of Redding West in 2014, she made it her ‘pet’ project. Every year, they produce a fabulous fundraiser called the Taste of Redding and part of the proceeds supplied much of the funds for this unit. Way to go, Redding West!

This is the maiden voyage for Rotaplast’s nasoendoscope! Susan and her interpreter, Barbara Gay, have used it on 12 patients (in addition to over 40 speech pathologies and evaluations).  Four planned surgeries have already been altered, for the better, by use of this scope. One patient was scheduled for a pharyngeal flap but after being ‘scoped’ it was changed to a sphincter pharyngoplasty. You know what those are, right?

Another patient was determined to not need surgery as a result of scoping, Dr. Cesar Restrepo, the prosthodonist, was able to make a prosthesis or “speech bulb” for the youngster. In the end-of-day wrap up meeting, Dr. Anne DeLaney said, “Cesar fabricated the most beautiful speech bulb I have ever seen! When I first looked in the patient’s mouth I couldn’t find it, but I looked closer and it was because it was so beautifully camouflaged. When I heard the patient speak, I could understand every word he spoke.” It was a miracle!