Walk Strong Foundation – Veracruz, Mexico

Recently, I had the privilege to participate in an outstanding endeavor. I received a call from Dr Michael Christie in early April of this year requesting that I join him and his team in Mexico. Dr Christie was the director of my joint replacement fellowship in Nashville, TN (Southern Joint Replacement Institute). The project that he and others began is the Walk Strong Foundation.

The purpose of the project is to bring joint replacement to an underserved community in Veracruz, Mexico. Furthermore, the goal is to educate the local orthopedic community in all phases of arthroplasty surgery. The group has made a 10 year commitment to the hospital in Veracruz with the expectation that hospital will evolve into a self-sufficient joint replacement program to serve the local population. Money and equipment for the project are raised 100% through private and industry donations.

I was very honored that Dr. Christie would ask me to join the team. I have long been interested in medical mission trips and this was a perfect opportunity to get involved. We arrived for a one-week period in mid-April. The hotel and hospital staff were very gracious and excellent hosts.

In the Walk Strong program, surgeons play just one role. There were nurses, anesthesia staff, physical and occupational therapists, OR techs, and OR equipment staff who worked diligently and really made the whole process possible. These folks had all volunteered to assist in the project and without their support our work would not have been possible.

We operated almost everyday; usually performing 3-4 joint replacement surgeries each day. I had the chance to perform several operations with severe deformity of the joint which we seldom see here in the US.

It was an honor to be able to assist the patients in regaining mobility and strength through joint replacement. In addition, we had the opportunity to work alongside and educate many of the local orthopedic surgery trainees. Hopefully they will provide the future of joint replacement in this community.

Getting the opportunity to again work with the team from Nashville (surgeons, techs, assistants, nurses) made the whole experience even better. I would like to personally thank the surgeons at SJRI who have invited me to become a member of this project…..I look forward to returning to Veracruz on a routine basis to offer my experience and help in the project. I would also like to thank all of the staff and support personnel whose work day to day makes the project possible. I feel blessed to be in a group who has the ability and commitment to help others in this way.

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