Operation Smile Provides Free Surgery in Hinche, Haiti, from March 3-9

Children with Facial Deformities will Benefit from Medical Mission in Organization’s Newest Partner Country

Norfolk, VA 3/07/2008 11:42 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)

An Operation Smile team of international medical volunteers will be in Hinche, Haiti, from March 3-9, where they will provide free physical examinations and reconstructive surgery to children suffering with facial deformities.  More than 20 Operation Smile medical and non-medical volunteer team members, including plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others, will care for children who suffer from cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.  This is Operation Smile’s first medical mission in the country of Haiti and is part of a collaboration with Partners In Health, a non-profit corporation active in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, Russia, and the United States, that provides a preferential option for the poor in health care. In Haiti, working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP), Partners In Health provides comprehensive community-based primary care services and treatment for HIV and tuberculosis at nine sites in the Central Plateau and Artibonite.  Operation Smile volunteers from Brazil, Canada, Colombia and the United States will work with Partners In Health and MSPP staff at Saint Theresa Hospital in Hinche.  The medical team will conduct free physical examinations for patients on March 4, followed by free surgeries on March 6-9.  Cleft lips and cleft palates are the fourth largest birth defect in the world and make it difficult for children to eat and speak. It is estimated that more than 15,000 people in Haiti are currently suffering with these deformities.

Operation Smile will conduct a series of medical education and training programs for more than 60 Haitian medical professionals. On March 1 & 2, Operation Smile will conduct a Basic Life Support (BLS) training course for approximately 30 Haitian nurses.  Operation Smile is the only organization authorized by the American Heart Association to function as a global and mobile International Training Organization (ITO).  In addition, Operation Smile medical volunteer Dominique DeClerk will conduct a Critical Nursing Skills Training Program on March 3 to teach approximately 30 Haitian nurses the critical skills needed for treating children who receive cleft lip and cleft palate reconstructive surgery, focusing on the stages of treatment including pre- and post-operative care, and operating room and recovery room nursing.  On March 5, Operation Smile will conduct a medical education conference.  Operation Smile Senior Manager of  Education Dr. Luis Bermudez will lecture on cleft lips and cleft palates, Operation Smile medical volunteer Dr. Selwyn Rogers will give a presentation titled “Burn Injury,” and Operation Smile volunteer Jeri Hinds, R.N., will lecture on burn care.  Partners In Health has identified local medical staff and nurses from the National Nursing School in Port-au-Prince to participate in training, and has provided Operation Smile with its educational facility, located on the hospital campus, to host the education programs.
Operation Smile and Partners In Health have both been awarded the $1 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to recognize outstanding contributions made to alleviate human suffering. This shared honor has brought the two organizations together for this collaboration in Haiti.  For this medical mission, Partners In Health has arranged local ground transportation, meals and lodging for the volunteers.  Partners In Health has also provided some of the medical supplies, such as oxygen tanks and IV fluids, to be used during the mission.  Working with Haitian Customs agents, Partners In Health successfully cleared Operation Smile’s medical supplies and equipment into the country.  In addition, Partners In Health has contacted cleft lip and cleft palate patients in their network and has arranged for a shelter to house patients who have traveled long distances. 

About Operation Smile (www.operationsmile.org)
Founded in 1982, Operation Smile, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, is a
worldwide children’s medical charity whose network of global volunteers are dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults.  Since its founding, Operation Smile volunteers have treated more than  115,000 children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. In addition to contributing free medical treatment, Operation Smile trains local medical professionals in its 26 partner countries and leaves behind crucial equipment to lay the groundwork for long-term self-sufficiency. 

About Partners In Health (www.pih.org)
Partners In Health (PIH) is a nonprofit corporation based in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1987, PIH is committed to working with partner organizations to improve the health and well-being of people living in poor communities. PIH currently provides technical and financial assistance, medical supplies, and administrative support to partner projects in Haiti, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Guatemala, and Boston.

Media Notes:  To receive images, b-roll footage or additional information, or to request an interview with an Operation Smile spokesperson, please contact Lisa Jones at ljones@operationsmile.org or 757-321-3252.



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