By John Carruthers, assistant editor, October 01, 2013
Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Allison Vidimos, MD, became involved in medical mission trips to Honduras after a cardiologist colleague began a service organization aimed at aiding the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Since her first trip, Dr. Vidimos has not only stayed on as one of a regular group of eight physicians, but has brought her two daughters along over a five-year span.
"My office is in a classroom, and my operatory suite is a desk. It's a real test of your knowledge."
- The group, based in San Pedro Sula, travels to cities and towns throughout Honduras, ranging from towns 20 minutes away to remote villages that require a four-hour trip.
- Dr. Vidimos and her colleagues stay at the sites for six days, seeing between 400 and 700 patients each day. Two-thirds of the patients, she said, are kids.
- “We’ve gone to some of the same villages since I’ve been doing this so long. I’ve started to recognize patients I’ve seen before, and it’s nice to see that they’ve done well with their procedures,” Dr. Vidimos said. “We’ve taken off skin cancers and seen the patients years later. It’s very gratifying.”
- In addition to bacterial and fungal infections that led to dermatologic issues, Dr. Vidimos has seen a number of cases usually brought to other specialties in the U.S., including half-a-dozen children with extra digits and a number of serious machete wounds.
- “You have no labs, no cultures, and basically have to look at something and treat it,” Dr. Vidimos said. “It’s a tremendous learning experience. We’ve set broken bones with less-than-optimal splint material. You look at your toolbox and say you’re going to do the best you can with what you have.”
- “It’s been a good experience for the residents, a great experience for my daughters, and I continue to go because it’s one thing that I can do to help people in another part of the world.”
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