Honduras: Day One

Source: Blog Post

Sharing Resources Worldwide (www.sharingresourcesworldwide.org) returns to Central America for a second annual hand surgery mission in Honduras.  ASSH members Ericka Lawler, MD and Apurva Shah, MD MBA were generously sponsored by the Touching Hands Project.  Our team rendezvoused in San Pedro Sula and took a school bus to Siguatepeque, located in the central mountains of Honduras.  On the bus, we reviewed the week’s itinerary, logistical details and safety precautions (Zika!).  After arrival, we toured the beautiful, lush campus of our host, La Providencia (https://providenceworld.com/), an organization that provides orphan care as well as primary education and medical care to children in at risk communities.


Our team traveled from Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and includes two surgeons, a hand surgery fellow, two nurse anesthetists, an anesthesiologist, a surgical technician, six nurses and an occupational therapist.


Lynn Burleson, ORT – Surgical Technician, University of Iowa

Laura Covalli, CRNA – Nurse Anesthetist, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Sandy Cox, RN – Nurse, University of Iowa

Mary Dowling, RN – Co-Founder and Director of Sharing Resources Worldwide

Michelle Friday, RN – Nurse, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Lynn Ann Gregorowicz, RN – Nurse, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Cynthia Haas, CRNA – Nurse Anesthetist, University of Iowa

Jonathan Katz, MD – Hand Surgery Fellow, University of Iowa

Ericka Lawler, MD – Hand Surgeon, University of Iowa

Meagan Pehnke, OT – Occupational Therapist, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Melinda Seering, MD – Anesthesiologist, University of Iowa

Apurva Shah, MD MBA – Hand Surgeon, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Linda Wilson, RN – Nurse, University of Iowa

Paula Woods, RN - Nurse, University of Iowa


Following breakfast on Saturday morning, we arrived at the John Eaves Medical Clinic at La Providencia, where the team evaluated dozens of pediatric patients.  Local college and medical students volunteered translation services.  These patients traveled with their families by public bus, car and foot for evaluation—some upwards of 4-5 hours.  We saw many children from the previous year’s mission who had made substantial improvements in function including one boy with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy who underwent tendon transfers with restoration of forearm supination and wrist extension.  Many new children presented with challenging conditions that could not be safely treated during our week, including a young man with a total brachial plexopathy from a motorcycle collision two months ago and a child with epidermolysis bullosa with severe hand contractures.  Among the new children that presented, many were candidates for surgery including children with brachial plexus birth palsy, syndactyly, symbrachydactyly, metacarpal synostosis, lateral condyle nonunion, and neglected fractures and tendon injuries.  Many children will stay at the clinic for 1-2 days of perioperative care.  After our team’s departure, post-operative care will be supervised by a local orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Silvio Gonzalez, and a family medicine physician, Dr. Iveth Villatoro.   


We will begin surgery at 7:30 am tomorrow morning, with cases scheduled in two operating rooms.  Sharing Resources Worldwide has managed to secure an old fluoroscopy unit, which will markedly improve our ability to take on challenging cases that could not be safely performed last year.  Our nursing team worked hard throughout the day to organize supplies and equipment.  Although there are significant limitations in the available equipment, the team feels well-equipped and energized for the first day of surgery.  For now, we are finishing up case planning and then it’s off to dinner!


“A life not lived for others is not a life.” – Mother Teresa