From Sturgeon County to Ecuador: County nurse off on medical mission

Above from left: Rotary Club of Morinville President Carol Haley with Canadian Association of Medical Teams Abroad (CAMTA) member Ina Verheul. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Lucie Roy

Quito, Ecuador is a fair distance from High Q Greenhouses just west of Morinville, but that is where Ina Verheul is going to volunteer her services at the end of February.

Verheul is an owner-operator of High Q Greenhouses with her husband, Michiel, and an Operating Room Nurse at the Misericordia Community Hospital.

She is one of the members on the medical team departing on Week Two of the mission with the Canadian Association of Medical Teams Abroad CAMTA), a worldwide organization based in Edmonton.

CAMTA has had charitable status in Canada since 2001 and has gone on 18 successful missions to date.

This CAMTA annual mission will comprise of two teams of about 50 members each and will perform at least 80 surgeries on adults and children.

Verheul told local Rotarians at their Feb. 19 meeting that it cost $3200 for team members to cover their expenses, including return air tickets, accommodations, meals and transportation to and from the hotel and hospital. Any excess funds raised by team members go towards purchasing much-needed supplies and equipment.

Verheul started her first mission with CAMTA in 2015. Five years later, she embarks on her second time going with many from the Edmonton area. Verheul said some have been going for 10 to 18 years and manage to raise funds and take time off work to go.

It is a wonderful program,” Verheul said. “It is gratifying to go there and see the difference you make in people’s lives, what you do. It is just really good.”

CAMTA’s mission is to provide medical and surgical care. Verheul said two-thirds of the world’s population lacks access to orthopedic care, and that CAMTA is dedicated to Ecuadorians who cannot afford the cost of adequate orthopedic surgeries. Their patients are adults who require total hip replacement and the correction of deformities of the lower extremities in children, including club foot repairs.

They also always go to the same hospital and have a good working relationship there, the pre0existing relationship allowing them to get to work quickly.

Verheul said people come from miles around and line up. Because of the number coming for help, CAMTA does assessments, selecting patients on a priority basis.

“We do this because it needs to be done. We live in a first-world country; we need to help people out there,” Verheul said.

Another initiative CAMTA is involved in is the Surgical Implant Generation Network (SIGN) Nail System, which has a vision of creating equality of fracture care throughout the world. SIGN currently has 130 programs worldwide.

The SIGN Nail is a fracture fixation device for femurs and tibias used in developing countries with no x-ray equipment required. Patients are typically out of the hospital in 48 hours.

Verheul said CAMTA’s vision is to implement a SIGN Nail system in all provinces in Ecuador. They currently have programs in Cuenca and Babahoyo.

A CAMTA Medical Team has Pediatric and Adult Orthopedic Surgeons, Orthopedic Residents, Pediatric and Adult Anesthetists, respiratory Therapists, Family Practitioners, Physiotherapists, Pediatric and Adult Nurses (OR, Recovery Room and Ward), and Medical and Nursing Students. The Non-Medical Team Members include Administration, Logistics, Information Technologists, Spanish Translators, Bloggers, Lay People to wash instruments and anything else they may need assistance with and General students.

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