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, a medical records technician 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 they earned to purchase equipment such as fans and air conditioners for hospitals in Lima.
A year later, he enlisted the support and participation of Dr. Wakefield and Dr. Bass, 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 and their residency program, and the rehab team coordinated treatments with Dr. Mary Querevalu, director of Rehab. 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 2015, we had a team of 17 including physicians, surgeons, dentists, nurses, prosthetic specialists, and physical therapists, plus interpreters and four university students.
A typical medical mission lasts for one week. Dr. Wakefield performs 10-12 spine and a smaller number of brain surgeries during the week. The rehab team treats patients in the Outpatient Rehab Center. A large number of amputees frequent this clinic and a busy amputee program was started in 2008 under the expert supervision of Al Maciunas from Hangar Clinic. In 2008, one prosthetic specialist was able to fit 5-7 amputees with prosthesis and in our most recent trip in 2015 there were five prosthetic specialists and student trainees who were able to serve more than 60 amputees. We have established a post-operative spine care for Dr. Wakefield’s patients and a spinal cord injury program.
During the past two years, team members have been working to formalize the pediatric rehabilitation program. A dentist has been supporting the mission annually and has been serving adults and children at the in Lima. 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 program. Each year, between two and four university students accompany the team as a part of their university training. We have also established a residency training program for the Neuro-surgical and Physical Medicine & Rehab residents at Carrion Hospital. The Rehabilitation team has also been training the hospital-based physical occupational and pediatric therapists.
Our partners, Hartford Hospital Rehabilitation Network, Hangar Clinic, and DePuy Synthes have provided the mission with essential medical supplies for complex spine stabilization surgeries, prosthesis, 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 heightened and lives are improved.
WHAT WE'VE ACHIEVED
- More than 120 individuals have had successful surgeries to improve their quality of life
- More than 200 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 nearly 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
- Provided humanitarian aid to the indigent and disadvantaged in the Ventanilla community
- Established post op spine care and formalized the pediatric rehab program