With the help of generous donations and volunteered time of trained medical personnel, we have been able to respond to acute medical needs and enable people in impoverished areas of Peru to live a healthier, happier and more productive and prosperous life.
What began in 2005 as the dream of Hernando Garcia, an employee for more than 20 years at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, has grown into an effective, life-changing annual medical mission. Hernando, a native of Peru, initially sought to help people in his homeland by collecting recyclable bottles and cans in Connecticut, and using the money to purchase equipment such as fans and air conditioners for hospitals in Lima.
A year later, he enlisted the support and participation of Andrew Wakefield, MD, and David Bass, MD, who traveled with him to Peru, at their own expense, performing needed spine and plastic surgeries on individuals who would be unable to afford such care. A rehabilitation team of two from Hartford Hospital Rehabilitation Network in Connecticut accompanied Dr. Wakefield in 2007.
The foundation of a long-lasting relationship with Hospital National Daniel Alcides Carrión in Lima was established as Dr. Wakefield built a relationship with the Neurosurgery Department. The rehabilitation team coordinated treatments with Dr. Mary Querevalu, director of rehabilitation at the hospital. With each mission the number of team members grew, and connections were established with medical professionals in Peru to identify and coordinate the care of individuals in need in the Lima area. By 2008, a team of five medical personal formed the core of the all-volunteer Dreaming & Working Together team.
In 2017, our team of physicians, surgeons, nurses, prosthetic specialists, and physical, occupational and speech therapists had grown to 23!
Our medical missions last for one week. Dr. Wakefield performs 10-12 spine and brain surgeries. We have established a post-operative spine care and a spinal cord injury program for Dr. Wakefield’s patients. The rehabilitation team treats patients in the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. A large number of amputees attend this clinic and a busy amputee program was started in 2008 under the expert supervision of Al Maciunas from Hanger Clinic. In 2008, one prosthetic specialist was able to fit 7 amputees with prostheses and in our most recent trip in 2017 there were five prosthetic specialists and students who were able to serve more than 65 amputees.
Team members have worked to formalize the pediatric rehabilitation program. Hernando has been providing funds and materials annually for roofing in the Ventanilla community. Funding has been provided to Dr. Mary Querevalu’s organization to support clothing, food and other essentials for the under-served in the Ventanilla community.
Beginning in 2013, we partnered with the University of Hartford’s physical therapy and prosthetic/orthotic programs. Four university students now accompany the team as a part of their university training. We have also established a residency training program for the Neurosurgical and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation residents at Carrion Hospital. The rehabilitation team has also been training the hospital-based physical and occupational pediatric therapists.
Our partners, Hartford Hospital Rehabilitation Network, Hanger Clinic, and DePuy Synthes have provided the mission with essential medical supplies for complex spine stabilization surgeries, prostheses and rehabilitation supplies for therapy and function. With each annual mission, for an increasing number of residents of Lima and surrounding communities, pain is lessened, mobility is improved, functionality is enhanced and lives are improved.
WHAT WE'VE ACHIEVED
- More than 120 individuals have had successful surgeries to improve their quality of life
- More than 300 individuals have received prosthetic limbs, including children
- Doctors and medical staff in Peru have collaborated with medical professionals on the D&WT team, improving their knowledge and skills to enhance patient care
- The team of medical professionals participating in the D&WT team has grown steadily through the years, from a handful a decade ago, to more than twenty
- An education program has been established with the University of Hartford to provide experiential education to students in the nationally accredited prosthetics program
- Partnerships have been established with Hanger Clinic and other medical companies that now provide tens of thousands of dollars in medical devices and products that are used in surgeries, prosthetics and rehabilitation
- Humanitarian aid to the indigent and disadvantaged in the Ventanilla community has been provided
- Post-op spine care and a formalized pediatric rehab program have been established