Published: February 23, 2016

Hope and hearing for Honduran villages

Arriving at the airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, our group—60 Americans in yellow shirts with “More than Medicine” written on them—was certainly easy to locate. With people arriving from Texas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and several other states, the excitement level was high for the upcoming eight-day mission to Guaimaca.

By Jayne Stevens, MD, AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Resident Grantee, San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio, TX

hondurasArriving at the airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, our group—60 Americans in yellow shirts with “More than Medicine” written on them—was certainly easy to locate. With people arriving from Texas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and several other states, the excitement level was high for the upcoming eight-day mission to Guaimaca.

The mission took place at the Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International facilities in Guaimaca, Honduras, and in several nearby surrounding villages. Guaimaca, which is located northeast of the nation’s capital, is a rural town with a primarily agricultural economy. The hospital provides the only medical care to the surrounding areas, with a Honduran physician on call at all times. The facility also serves to host humanitarian medical and surgical missions, our group being one of these.

Our team, which traveled as part of TIME for Christ Global Ministries, consisted of surgical teams for otolaryngology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, and obstetrics/gynecology as well as primary care teams for daily missions to local villages. After a grueling 13-hour clinic the first day, the operating rooms were filled, and all of the patients were screened.

Over the next five days, 96 operations were performed, with otolaryngologists performing just under 30 of these. In the local villages, approximately 1,200 patients were evaluated and treated medically, including the many patients with hearing loss who were fitted with solar-powered hearing aids. The days were long, but the gratitude of the Honduran people was strong motivation for our efforts. Throughout the week, our group, which originally seemed like a uniform sea of yellow shirts to an outsider, became much more heterogeneous as I came to know more about my fellow volunteers. Hearing the stories that led each to set aside finances and time to serve in a developing country was truly moving.

I hope our efforts in Honduras prove to have a lasting and positive impact on the people we encountered. Regardless of whether this occurs, I know that the experience has profoundly influenced my perspectives on many topics including humanitarian efforts, healthcare equity, and the efficient use of medical resources. I am thankful to the AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Efforts Committee for its assistance in making this trip possible. I am also thankful to the three otolaryngologists I accompanied: David S. Parsons, MD, Scott A. Estrem, MD, and John R. Blumer, MD. Their excellent guidance and teaching was valuable, and their demonstration of selflessness in service to others was inspiring.



More from March 2016 - Vol. 35, No. 02

New task forces focus on education
By Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, AAO-HNSF former Coordinator for Education The AAO-HNS/F has assembled four education task forces to address important issues concerning our Members and the profession. I am honored to be involved in many of these efforts and to serve as chair for two of these groups. The Simulation Task Force was formed in 2011 to define the current state of simulation, to investigate its role and future potential in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, and to provide educational resources for AAO-HNS Members. Under the leadership of Ellen S. Deutsch, MD, the Simulation Task Force has accomplished: Initiation of Simulation Open Forums, at both the Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings (COSM) and the AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPOSM, has brought together like-minded individuals to discuss interests, challenges, and opportunities in simulation. An active ENTConnect community engages simulation Members in ongoing collaboration and exploration. Launch of the SimTube Project, a national initiative for simulation-based educational research with the immediate goal of assessing the usefulness of a low-cost, low-tech simulator in learning myringotomy and tube placement, and the larger goal of establishing an infrastructure that could support multiprogram collaboration for more complex simulation-based educational research in the future. More than 60 U.S. residency programs now participate in the study. Numerous Annual Meeting Miniseminars highlighting current education efforts and advanced technology in simulation while also demonstrating the value of simulation in quality of care and systems improvement. Recognizing the expanding role of simulation in education, research, and quality, the task force has recently submitted an application to become a Foundation committee. This new designation will permit a formal and permanent structure for furthering Member opportunities and engagement. Dr. Deutsch and Gregory J. Wiet, MD, will chair the committee. The Comprehensive Curriculum Task Force stemmed from the 2013 Board of Directors Strategic Planning meeting where Academy leadership acknowledged the need for a core curriculum in otolaryngology. The Otolaryngology Comprehensive Curriculum will serve as a lifelong, continually expanding learning and assessment tool for otolaryngology professionals. The content and structure will meet the needs of students, residents, allied health colleagues, and all practicing physicians engaged in MOC and lifelong learning. The online format will cover the otolaryngology scope of knowledge, provided in various educational formats, to guide and address cognitive and technical skills. The “living” content will be kept current with frequent updates so users can be assured they are participating in a rich and growing educational program. The task force believes this to be an ideal opportunity to unite the specialties around education, reduce duplicative efforts across societies, and to provide a comprehensive education platform for our specialty. A working group comprised of society representatives is finalizing a list of topics and performing an inventory of all existing education content across the specialties. This information will inform the development of future education programming. The Intraoperative Nerve Monitoring Task Force, in existence since fall 2015, will address key issues relevant to facial nerve monitoring during otologic and neuro-otologic surgery. With representation from the American Neurotology Society (ANS) and the American Otological Society (AOS), the task force will focus on: Determining current practice in training and performance of nerve monitoring among Academy Members and Residency Program Directors. Developing education activities that will provide uniform and standardized training for otolaryngologists to safely and successfully perform the procedure. Clarifying the AAO-HNS/F perspective on intraoperative nerve monitoring within the specialty. AAO-HNS President Sujana S. Chandrasekhar, MD, proposed the latest group, Advanced Practice Professionals (APP) Education Task Force. With the growing presence of mid-level providers in otolaryngology practices, it is imperative that we provide our colleagues with proper education and training in our field. These efforts will improve their contributions to our practices and patients while also educating AAO-HNS Members on the benefits of including APPs in the profession. In collaboration with the APP societies, including SPAO-HNS, the task force will design educational programing and provide resources that will allow advanced practice providers and otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons to work synergistically to improve patient care. “I have every confidence that this task force will put together a comprehensive ENT APP curriculum, utilizing many Academy resources. Establishing such an educational outline will really help our Members as they seek to incorporate APPs into their practices” said Dr. Chandrasekhar. Karen T. Pitman, MD, and Peter D. Costantino, MD, will serve as chairs of this new task force. Academy task force Members are working hard on topics critical to the Academy and the profession. “These education task forces really complement the work of the education committees by addressing new and innovative education opportunities for our Members,” said Richard V. Smith, MD, coordinator for Education. If you are interested in more information or contributing to any of these projects please email