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History

Changing Lives for the Better!

A significant percentage of the population of Ecuador suffers from hip dysplasia. Many cannot afford the surgery needed to treat that condition and end up being house-bound at very early ages.  Well informed public health workers could easily detect the condition at birth and refer the child for early, simple and affordable treatment. Timely surgery for adolescent hip dysplasia would greatly decrease the early onset of arthritis for these Ecuadorian people.  Children born with a clubfoot no longer face the reality of a surgery that is simply too expensive to even contemplate.  With the proper training, medical personnel could use a casting technique called the “Ponseti” method to attain the same result at a fraction of the cost. 

In August 2001 a group of individuals registers as the Canadian Association of Medical Teams Abroad (CAMTA) in Alberta and receives charitable status with Revenue Canada. The group’s mission is:

  • To perform total joint replacement surgery for the poor of Ecuador, and to treat children with club feet and hip dislocations
  • To enhance fracture care and to share with the local medical community new ways of looking at old problems
  • To donate supplies and equipment to our partner hospitals
  • To donate the SIGN nail to trauma hospitals in Ecuador, where they will be used on the very poor to treat long bone fractures

CAMTA, through its efforts with Ecuadorian medical personnel has helped to make changes in the way orthopedic care is offered to the poor in that country.


2002

CAMTA’s first official mission to Cuenca, Ecuador takes place with 29 team members in the winter of 2002. The purpose of the trip is to provide care for adults suffering from knee and hip arthritis, and for children born with club feet and dislocated hips. The crew performs 18 adult surgeries and multiple surgeries on 10 children. Adult surgeries were performed at the Hospital Clinica Latino Americano and the pediatric surgeries were performed at Hospital Militario de Azuay.

The budget is $85,000.00; CAMTA members raise $84,655.00. After an unexpected donation of supplies, there is a surplus of $7,509.00.

In November CAMTA signs a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador to foster the exchange of medical students between USFQ and the University of Alberta.

2003
CAMTA moves from Cuenca to the Tierra Nueva Foundation Hospital in Quito, Ecuador. The Tierra Nueva Foundation, established by Father Jose Carollo in 1970, is located in the underprivileged district of South Quito where the population is over 1 million and the number of hospital beds per 1,000 residents is 0.268.
In January the CAMTA team of 24 performs 32 surgeries over a one-week period on 14 children and 18 adults between the ages of five months and 81 years.

2004
In January the 27 member CAMTA team successfully performs 31 challenging orthopedic surgeries on 12 children and 19 adults during a one week mission.  As one young volunteer puts it:  “You (CAMTA) know how to have fun, but you also know how to get the job done.” 

2005
In 2005, 36 team members travel to Ecuador to treat 38 adult and pediatric cases including four club foot repairs and 21 hip replacements. This mission sees the start of CAMTA’s total joint replacement outcome study as WOMAC and SF-36 scores are administered pre-operatively on all new patients. These questionnaires are well recognized tools for measuring disease or illness burden and can be used in following years to assess progress. 

2006
35 team members return to work side-by-side with our friends – the staff of the Tierra Nueva.  After three previous missions we have a good degree of trust and understanding.  

2007
Every year people who desperately need CAMTA’s medical help are turned away at the pre-op clinic because of limited time and manpower, so in 2007 CAMTA doubles the size of the volunteer team and the duration of the mission in Quito, sending 62 team members.

2008
The team grows again to 75 members. CAMTA initiates a program to bring the SIGN Nail  (a superior treatment for fixing long bone fractures that allows patients to return to normal activity faster) to hospitals in Ecuador.

2009
Eighty-four team members travel on the 2009 mission during which, 38 adult patients receive 43 procedures. As well, 33 children receive 49 procedures. Eleven of those pediatric patients have bilateral procedures.

2010
CAMTA sends two teams (87 people) who perform 46 hip replacements on adults and 32 surgeries on children over a 17-day period. Two CAMTA surgeons spend the first week in Ecuador looking at the feasibility of future expansion into smaller centres to allow CAMTA to reach more community health workers and doctors, and to educate a wider base of local medical personnel.

2011
In 2011, CAMTA’s 10th anniversary,  two teams of 83 volunteers perform over 80 surgeries on adults and children in Ecuador in an 18-day period at a new location at Un Canto a la Vida Hospital.  At mid-mission both teams celebrate our anniversary with friends and colleagues in Quito.  The Canadian Ambassador, Mr. Andrew Shisko addresses the group.

2012
In a two week mission, 89 CAMTA team members perform life-changing surgeries on 39 adults and 24 children over a two-week period in Quito, Ecuador. In addition, CAMTA donates equipment, provides education and training, and furthers its community outreach.  A meeting with government is held thanks to the efforts of the Canadian Ambassador to forge a connection.

2013

For the first time CAMTA used the Ponsetti casting method on three young children. This technique corrects a congenital club foot without invasive surgery. We delivered another SIGN Nail System to the hospital in Macas, Ecuador, to help medical personnel in this remote area treat long bone fractures. Two   of our surgeons visited Babahoyo, where they gave instructions on an online reporting system for the SIGN Nail, and tips for taking better photographs of X-rays. AND, we     were delighted to have the new Canadian Ambassador to Ecuador, Pamela O'Donnell, join the CAMTA team at Un   Canto a la Vida Hospital to see firsthand what we do. Overall, two teams of 92 volunteers performed surgeries on 20 children and 30 adult patients.  

2014

Over a two-week period in February and March, 96 CAMTA volunteers changed the lives of 35 adults who were suffering from debilitating orthopedic problems. Our surgical team performed 44 hip replacements on the 35 adults (some had both hips replaced the same day!).  Many of these people were previously bed-ridden and unable to work to support their families. Most of them have returned to work with renewed strength and vigour.

We also performed 35 procedures on 27 children, including corrections of complex foot deformities (e.g. club feet), tendon releases and reduction of dislocated hips. For the second year, CAMTA has used the Ponseti method of casting,  a non-invasive and very successful way to treat club feet in babies.

This year over 200 people came to our clinics at Un Canto a la Vida Hospital in Quito hoping for orthopedic intervention. So there is still plenty of work to do! We look forward to returning in 2015!

2015

This year our team of 93 volunteers - medical professionals and lay people - changed the lives of 58 Ecuadoreans and their families. We performed 35 procedures on 24 children, and did 39 hip replacements for 34 adults. Five of those adults had BOTH hips replaced and walked out of the hospital a few days later!

New for us this year - an on-site blood bank at Un Canto a la Vida Hospital which made it much easier for our patients to get blood if they needed transfusions. Previously, a patient's family had to travel across Quito to pick up donated blood, when needed.

 
 
On the Saturday morning between Weeks One and Two, two of our CAMTA surgeons, Jaime Carvajal Alba and Jay Jarvis, presented at the first Tierra Nueva Foundation Conference on Orthopedics and Traumatology. Dr. Carvajal Alba's talk on Coxartrosis (osteoarthritis of the hip) and Dr. Jarvis' on Hip Dysplasia in Children arising from Fractures were well received by the local doctors, nurses and physiotherapists in attendance. We are already planning for the Second Annual Conference in 2016.
 
Pediatric LPN, Saison Demitor, taught CPR to local nurses and nursing students at the hospital on the second Wednesday morning. Saison is a CPR instructor for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Saison used a power point presentation, which had been translated in Spanish ahead of time, to review the basics of adult and child CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator).

And we are happy to say that ALL of our patients were discharged before we left Quito this year. This rarely happens. Patients who have surgery late in Week 2 often need to be cared for for a few extra days by the very competent staff at Un Canto a la Vida. Our timely discharges this year included a patient who had BOTH hips replaced on Friday and was able to walk and navigate stairs by Sunday morning!
 
2016

Ninety volunteers worked together to provide orthopedic surgery to  69 Ecuadoreans. We performed 35 procedures on 31 children and did 43 hip replacements for 38 adults. Five of those adults had BOTH hips replaced and walked out of the hospital a few days later!

For the second year in a row ALL of our patients were discharged before we left Quito. 

On the educational front, four of our CAMTA surgeons and a resident presented at the Second Annual Tierra Nueva Foundation Conference on Orthopedics and Traumatology. 

We taught CPR to local nurses and nursing students, reviewing the basics of adult and child CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator). 

CAMTA physiotherapists met with  Ecuadorian physiotherapists and, with assistance from translators, discussed commonalities and differences between physiotherapy diagnostic and assessment protocols between the two countries. Future presentations, shadowing and information sharing will continue to build a collaborative relationship between the CAMTA  and the Tierra Nueva physiotherapists.  

And, as always, CAMTA ward nurses found ample opportunities throughout the Mission to share knowledge on the care of post-op orthopedic patients. 


The support needed to make these trips possible comes from several different quarters.  Large and small businesses, church and service groups, and many private individuals give us financial support.  Our largest corporate sponsor, for five successive years  was TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.  Over a  five year period, CAMTA  received a total of $57,500.00 in grants from the Wild Rose Foundation.

Drugs, equipment and medical and surgical supplies have been donated or purchased from Edmonton businesses.  Two Edmonton lawyers, an accountant and a data systems analyst have all donated their valuable time and expertise to CAMTA.  Through-out the year, each member of the team gives his or her time, expertise, commitment, good humor and unbridled enthusiasm, all essential components for such a project.

 

 

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