Published: December 11, 2023

AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Travel Grant Report: La Ceiba, Honduras

Restarting a medical mission tradition.

Dallin Neil Christensen, MD

Img 9203As a PGY-5 at the University of Nebraska, I had the opportunity to travel to La Ceiba, Honduras, as part of the Hackett-Hemwall-Patterson Foundation’s medical mission contingent. This trip was originally organized by Michael H. McDonald, MD, who is an otolaryngologist at the University of Wisconsin.

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this trip had occurred annually for over 20 years, and this March 2023 trip was the first time back since 2019. Our cohort included Aaron Weiland, MD (faculty, University of Wisconsin), Christopher M. Bingcang, MD (faculty, University of Nebraska), Kenneth Congdon, MD, Sarah P. Rosen, MD (then chief resident at University of Wisconsin), and several anesthesia, audiology, and nursing providers.

Img 0363Dr. McDonald and the host of others who have participated over years fostered a relationship with the local medical facility, Hospital Vincent D’Antoni. A key piece of that partnership includes working with a local otolaryngologist who provides the follow-up care for our surgical patients after our departure. During the trip, we had the opportunity to provide residents of La Ceiba with hearing aids they would not have otherwise had access to. We also completed dozens of surgical procedures, including endoscopic sinus surgeries, tympanomastoidectomies, thyroidectomies, and many others.

This trip was one of the highlights of my medical training. I was able to be part of a group providing high-quality care to a population who otherwise would not have had access, all while making meaningful connections with residents and faculty from the University of Wisconsin. I believe that this trip also helped to lay the groundwork for my own career, in which I hope global medicine plays a significant role.

My participation in this trip was possible in part due to the AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Grant, and I am grateful for the Academy's efforts in facilitating this program.