When kindness meets strangers

From uneasiness to hope, two medical-surgical missions heal the poor in Cebu

Veldina Catapulan, 39 of Danao City is on a stretcher, appeared nervous but seemingly optimistic because in a few minutes it will be her turn for a surgical treatment of adenomyosis.

“Naa baya koy kahadlok, pero ako lang gihuna-huna nga dako gyud ni ug tabang nako ug sa akong pamilya,labi na pobre kayo mi ug wala gyudmi’y ika-gasto kay walay permamenteng trabaho akong bana,” Veldina said.

_MG_6879In Cebu, operation cost for adenomyosis ranges from P25,000 to P60,000 depending on the patient’s case. In addition to that, there would be hospital fees, daily and post-operation medicines and after care therapies.
“There’s no way they could afford a surgery. Swerte kaayo nga naka-avail sila ug libreng operasyon ug mga kinahanglano’ng mga tambal to sustain themselves after the operation,” Danao Hospital nurse Cecilia Gulfanq said.

Luckily, two non-profit medical organizations came to share their expertise and worked tirelessly to provide services to ease the suffering and save lives of underserved communities in Carcar City and Danao City.

Cebu Provincial Government is privileged to have partnered with Philippine Medical Society of North East Florida (PMSNEF) and Far Eastern University Nicanor Reyes School of Medicine-Alumni Foundation (FEUNRSMAF), Southern California Chapter who assembled a team volunteer of surgeons, medical and support personnel for a 4-day free surgical-medical mission last February held at their respective district hospitals.

The surgical missions involved surgeries on myoma, goiter, cleft lip/palate, hernia, gallbladder and ovarian cyst, among other exceptional cases.

Both missions held free medical consultations and gave vitamins and medicines for adults and kids, diabetis, blood pressure, and even gave prescribed medicines equivalent for the patients’ full treatment after the surgery.

In Carcar, PMSNEF had a crew of 85 medical doctors, surgeons, nurses and support crew working around the clock seeing hundreds of medical outreach patients daily last February 8-11.

Medical Director Dr. Francis Ong performed an average of 15 major surgeries daily while an average of 20 minor surgeries daily were done by PMSNEF president, Dr. Melchor Barros.

Dental services were done by the Philippine Air Force, BGBNEAB 1304th Dental Dispensary.with about 80-100 patients served. Nearly 90 patients also received free eye check-up.

In Danao City on February 15-18, FEUNRSMAF had a crew of 50 medical volunteers led by Dr. Licerio Castro together with other surgeons. They performed over 50 major surgeries while Danao Hospital Director, Dr. Prudencio Manubag had over 20 minor operations.

Beyond borders

Most successful people are looking for opportunities to help others, either in their community or go beyond borders of their land.

Established in 1978, PMSNEF composed of Jacksonville area physicians, come to the Philippines every 2 years.

“This effort is actually a culmination of two years of hard work. The PMSNEF worked tirelessly creating fun and memorable events for fundraising, such as sports tournaments and charity balls to gather necessary medical equipment, surgical supplies and medicines for donation to the Philippines,” Dr. Ong said.

Dr. Castro, a surgeon in Southern California who has done surgical-medical missions in the Philippines for 25 years is quite picky with his team.

“I choose the right people who are desirable and willing to work as a volunteer,” Dr. Castro said.

Carcar City Information Officer Candice Acuña is thankful of the opportunity and the outcome of the mission.

_MG_6968“The mission has been achieved. I’m thankful sa medical consultations and were also given free medicines,” Acuna said.

“In behalf of Mayor Nice Apura, we’re very thankful that they chose Carcar. We welcome more surgical-medical missions like this, kay sigurado gyud ta makatabang sa mga nagkinahanglan,” Acuna added.

“Nagpasalamat mi ug dako nga naapil mi aninga mission.Gi-ingnan mi sa among silingan kay nakadungog siya sa radio bahin sa libreng operasyon sa Carcar. Bisan unsa mi kalayo, naningkamot gyud mi ngamaka-ari para maka-apil sa libreng operasyon,” said Marife Sanoyof of Bais, Negros Oriental.

The 38 year old Sanoy, complained of severe pain during her menstrual cycle due to an ovarian cyst. She endured it for two years. She was already managed with her lab tests but couldn’t proceed due to operation costs. Her operation costs P25,000.

“Kursunada lang gyud mi sa akong bana. Pobre man kaayo mi. ‘Di lang sa gastohon sa operasyon kundi ang mga tambal pud. Dili madala ang gastohonon, mang-uuma ra intawn akong bana,” Marife said.

Sanoy came to Carcar with other two families of the same barangay including a 15-year old girl who also had a cleft palate repair surgery during the free surgical-medical mission.

Arcelita Duydura, 40 of Bohol, was suffering from a goiter disease. She together with her father were also benefited from free surgery.

Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III who paid a visit to hospitals on both events, saw patients and personally thanked the organizers.

The Capitol provided the volunteer’s accommodation, meals and snacks.

Challenging and inspiring

Participating in a medical mission can be both challenging and inspiring. Medical professionals and support personnel used their time, talent and money to do this important task.

Dr. Ong’s team faced challenges when two 40-foot containers filled with medicines, medical supplies and equipment for the medical mission and donation from their fund raising events were put on hold by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The two containers arrived in Cebu last August 2015 and apparently is still at Cebu port.

_MG_6903“It doesn’t matter. What’s important that we were still able to perform the surgeries that we want to. We were able to do it despite the problems,” Dr. Ong said.

Acuna stated that they need help in releasing the donated goods because it was intended for Carcar hospital.

Medications and surgical supplies were procured in Manila through the Philippine Medical Society and Cebu Provincial Health Office.

Aaron Remulta, provincial nurse feels happy to be involved by assisting the medical volunteers. He hopes by the next surgical-medical mission there would be more manpower.

“Mag-augment gyud ug mga nurses or medical personnel. Kay dali makatubag sa mga pangutana, kay medical man gud and maka-assist dayon sa needs sa medical team and patients,” Remulta said. Heart Rizarri