CLAYTON CRAWFORD - STANFORD UNIVERSITY

My first experience with Cinterandes was during the summer of 2010, when I spent two months living at a homestay in Cuenca, improving my Spanish and gaining a wealth of clinical training and exposure. I joined the team on two mobile surgery trips: one to the coastal fishing town of Palmar and another to the small mountain farming town of San Jose de Minas.

Upon arrival we were greeted with broad smiles from the long line of awaiting patients. Clinic started immediately as we examined patients very closely, ensuring they would be healthy and ready for an operation – one of the top reasons why Cinterandes has such a fantastically low complication rate. After a very busy two full days of operations, the team working closely with local rural health practitioners, constantly grateful community members, and doting and generous families of patients, we left in a chorus of gratitude, to return again the following year.

This February I joined them on my third mobile surgery trip to the mountain town of Pujili in the Cotopaxi region of Ecuador. Though the people and place were slightly different, the experience was very similar – filled with careful, dedicated medical assessment, surgical treatment, and post-operative care. The receiving rural health team was amazingly welcoming and helpful. And the bonds formed between members of trip team were forged in the selfless teamwork and personal feelings of satisfaction that only come from humanitarian service.

The mobile surgery paradigm, which counts Dr. Rodas as one of its earliest founders, is becoming more and more relevant in today’s progressing global health scene, where modern medical advances have leapfrogged a more simple barrier to healthcare: access. It fits perfectly with the barriers to access in Ecuador: rugged geography prevents many from reaching the benefits of free healthcare provided by their government. When people can’t reach the operating room, Cinterandes brings the operating room to them.

I consider the clinical experience I’ve gained while working with Cinterandes only a fraction of the immense total benefits they provide to students. Dr. Rodas and his team place huge importance not only on teaching the best medical and surgical practices, but also on developing good people with good values. Seeing the way Dr. Anita Vicuña, anesthesiologist, takes such tender care of each and every person who enters that little operating room in the back of a truck, is a priceless side of health care that is often lost amongst the high tech treatments of today, and is a skill I wouldn’t trade any amount of surgical training for.

The real, enduring strength of Cinterandes comes from it uber-dedicated, highly talented, long-lasting team. Each member knows their role and responsibilities well, and where they fit into the bigger picture. All have a deep respect for the work they do and the people they work with, the wonderful and diverse people of Ecuador. They exhibit the kind of day-to-day compassion championed by world peace leaders like the Dalai Lama – with no exaggeration. They are true professionals, using the knowledge and skills they have honed over years of learning and practice to affect positive change through service to others.

Thank you, Cinterandes, for everything!

Clayton Crawford

Stanford University

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