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 casti ng 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 works with Ecuadorian medical personnel to help make changes in the way orthopedic care is offered to the poor in that country.
CAMTA’s first official mission to Cuenca, Ecuador takes place in the winter of 2002 with 29 team member 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.
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, CAMTA’s 24 member team performs 32 surgeries over a one-week period – on 14 children and 18 adults between the ages of five months and 81 years.
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.”
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.
Thirty five team members return to work side-by-side with our friends – the staff of the Tierra Nueva. After three previous missions we have an excellent level of trust and understanding.
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 over two weeks.
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.
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.
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.
In 2011, CAMTA’s 10th anniversary, two teams totalling 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.
In a two week mission, 89 CAMTA team members perform life-changing surgeries on 39 adults and 24 children. In addition, CAMTA donates equipment, provides education and training, and furthers its community outreach. A meeting with the government is held, thanks to the efforts of the Canadian Ambassador to forge a connection.
For the first time CAMTA uses 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 visit Babahoyo, where they give 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.
Over a two-week period in February and March, 96 CAMTA volunteers changes the lives of 35 adults who were suffering from debilitating orthopedic problems. Our surgical team performs 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 return to work with renewed strength and vigour.
We also perform 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 uses the Ponseti method of casting, a non-invasive and very successful way to treat club feet in babies.
This year over 200 people come 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!
This year our team of 93 volunteers – medical professionals and lay people – change the lives of 58 Ecuadoreans and their families. We perform 35 procedures on 24 children, and do 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 makes it much easier for our patients to get blood if they need 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, present 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 are 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 teaches 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 uses a power point presentation in Spanish 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 are 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!
Ninety volunteers work together to provide orthopedic surgery to 69 Ecuadoreans. We perform 35 procedures on 31 children and do 43 hip replacements for 38 adults. Five of those adults had BOTH hips replaced and walk out of the hospital a few days later!
For the second year in a row ALL of our patients are 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 teach 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 meet with Ecuadorian physiotherapists and, with assistance from translators, discuss 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 find ample opportunities throughout the Mission to share knowledge on the care of post-op orthopedic patients.
Over a three week period in February and March, 91 volunteers from all over Canada, the US, Australia and Ecuador change the lives of 38 adults and 27 children with desperately needed orthopedic surgeries. Two of the adults and five of the children had more than one surgery.
Our group of professionals also share knowledge with their Quito colleagues, with two Nursing presentations and two from our Physiotherapists. CAMTA surgeons participated in the Third Annual Conference on Orthopedic Surgical Procedures, giving presentations on four different topics.
We welcome Eric Kendrick and Marialorina Pasquel from the Canadian Embassy in Quito, who drop by to meet our team and visit with some of our patients.
Staff members from NH Collection Royal Quito, our ‘home away from home” in Quito, arrive at the hospital one day with a surprise lunch: great sandwiches, juice, cookies and a beautiful cake!
Speaking of lunch… Zulay and David Palacios and their very generous friends once again provide lunch at the hospital for our hungry volunteers every day of the three week Mission!
Another long time CAMTA supporter, Byron Ushiña, treats us to two evenings of shopping for his handcrafted Ecuadorean Ancestral Jewelry. Byron donates a piece of his art to be given away to a lucky team member AND discounts his prices for our volunteers, then donates 10% of his sales on those evenings back to CAMTA.
CAMTA meets the challenge of communicating with our mostly Spanish-speaking patients by bringing hardworking translators with us. We are also grateful to have many locally based translators offer their services. Miluska Sanchez once again organizes a full schedule of local high school students, and some of their mothers, to help with translating. A former surgical patient, Jorge Anibal Chulde Zaruma comes back every year to translate physiotherapists’ exercise demonstrations in the clinic. CAMTA translator Sammy Ruiz ‘s parents, Hugo and Oliva Ruiz also helped with translating. Alex Tapia, a local translator who became a CAMTA team member for the 2016 mission who brings friends with her to help in the clinic brings her daughter, Mili, this year.
In February/March 2018 we complete our sixteenth successful Mission in Quito! Ninety-five volunteers from all over Canada and Ecuador changed the lives of 37 adults and 25 children with desperately needed orthopedic surgeries. Five of the adults and nine of the children had more than one surgery.
Our team enjoys a visit from Canadian Ambassador to Ecuador, Marianick Tremblay. Ambassador Tremblay dons our blue scrubs, tours the administration area, “kitchen” (sterilizing area), pre-op, and even head to the OR to watch a total hip replacement. Afterwards, she goes to the ward to visit with recovering patients.
Local Ecuadorian orthopod, Dr. Juan Carlos Zabala, scrubs in with our surgeons, and continues to share new techniques with local medical personnel.
During the mission, groups of our medical volunteers participate in several presentations to local physiotherapists, nurses, general practitioners and orthopedic surgeons, residents and medical students on topics including rehabilitation techniques for stroke survivors, pre-surgery fasting guides, non-surgical treatment of osteoarthritis and adult and pediatric orthopedic topics.
In 2019, 95 volunteers from all over Canada changed the lives of 35 adults and 28 children with desperately needed orthopedic surgeries. Three of the adults and sixteen children had more than one surgery.
Ecuador TV did a live news story about the Mission. The crew came right into the centre of the action in the OR and interviewed Dr. Marc Moreau, CAMTA co-founder and pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Moreau spoke about how much he has come to love Ecuador over the past 20 years of doing mission work and the privilege it is to bring surgical expertise from Canada to help those in need. Because the story was live, some of our patients on the ward were watching as it happened! TV interviews like this are a great way to spread the word about what CAMTA does and to recruit future patients from Quito and beyond who may need surgery.
Sylvie Bedard, the new Canadian Ambassador to Ecuador visited us at the hospital to see what CAMTA is doing here in Quito. Donning scrubs, Ambassador Bedard stopped in on both surgeries that were taking place. She was amazed by the resources CAMTA brings to the operating rooms, including monitors, surgical equipment, prostheses and the skill sets of our Team members.
This year 102 volunteers from all over Canada changed the lives of 35 adults and 25 children with desperately needed orthopedic surgeries. Four of the adults and ten children had more than one surgery. Our youngest patient was only a year old; our oldest was 77. This year we had a representative from Smith & Nephew join our team. Smith & Nephew has been a long-term supporter of CAMTA, donating prostheses for our patients in quantities valued upwards of $100,000.00 per year!
Sadly, we had to cancel Mission 2021 in Quito due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So in 2021 we built a new kind of Mission; we called it “To Quito with Love”.
CAMTA volunteers and supporters came together to raise funds to purchase equipment that will be used at Padre Carollo Hospital in Quito. Early in the pandemic, we sent money to purchase PPE for hospital staff. We gave the hospital four vital signs monitors that we had in storage in Quito, then raised over $50,000 to buy two new respirators, which will also be used in future CAMTA Missions.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we were again unable to hold our annual medical mission in February/March of 2022. We kept in contact with our partners in Quito regarding transportation, accommodation, and meals to ensure that things would be in place when we could return.
In May of 2022, a small team of CAMTA members travelled to Quito to sort and donate supplies stored in Quito and to assess general safety. We emptied approximately 120 hockey bags and bins, donated all supplies that were stale dating prior to 2023, checked all equipment to be sure that everything was still in working order, unwrapped all our surgical instruments to be sure that nothing had gone missing, rewrapped and sterilized everything and re-inventoried all supplies and equipment. We washed 591 pounds of scrubs, linens and wrappers so that they would be ready for our use during the next mission.
We met with our Brigade leader, administration, and several department heads at our host hospital in Quito. We were reassured by Ecuador’s high vaccination rates and the precautions they took to ensure the safety of all. We returned home assured that we could safely conduct our next annual mission in February/March of 2023.
The CAMTA team was thrilled to return to Quito for Mission 2023 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic!
This year 93 volunteers from across Canada, and one Canadian living in the US, made the trip to Ecuador changing the lives of 39 adults and 29 children. Seven of the adult patients had bilateral hip replacements – meaning seven of our patients had both hips replaced. Several of the children also had more than one surgery.
Local doctors were able to scrub in with our surgeons, as teaching is also an important component of these mission trips.
Canada’s new ambassador to Ecuador, Stephen Potter, visited us at Un Canto a la Vida, Padre Carollo Hospital to see firsthand the work being done by the team in Quito.
CAMTA was able to set up a new SIGN Nail program in Loja, Ecuador this year. It is CAMTA’s 3rd SIGN Nail program. The SIGN Nail is a fracture fixation system used to treat long bong fractures in 57 developing countries around the world. It requires no special X-ray equipment and allows patients to be out of hospital in as little as 48 hours instead of being in traction in hospital for weeks, or even months. The program will be overseen by Dr. Eduardo Gaumin, and CAMTA will replenish implants used, each year.
At a dinner on the Saturday between weeks one and two, Tierra Nueva Foundation presented CAMTA with a plague commemorating 20 years of mission trips to Quito.
Thank you to all of the supporters, donors, volunteers, and behind-the-scenes worker bees for your part in making these mission trips possible! Muchas Gracias!
The support needed to make these trips possible comes from several quarters. Over the years, large and small businesses, church and service groups, and many private individuals have given us financial support. Early on, 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.
Edmonton businesses have donated or purchased drugs, equipment, and medical and surgical supplies needed for our missions. Since 2009, CAMTA’s largest supporter has been Smith and Nephew, supplying prostheses for our patients to a value greater than $100,000 annually. Many of our medical supplies are donated by Pri-Med Canada.
Since 2005 Antrim Construction has donated clean and secure warehouse space where we can organize and store our supplies between missions. Two Edmonton lawyers, an accountant and a data systems analyst have all donated their valuable time and expertise to CAMTA. Throughout the year, each team member gives his or her time, expertise, commitment, good humour and unbridled enthusiasm – all essential components for such a project.