Here are some of the organizations we work with to fulfill our goal of making a greater impact in our communities here and abroad. Faculty, fellows, and residents continue to generously donate their time and expertise to these worthy groups.
Heart Care International is a Connecticut-based, nonprofit organization (5013c) entering its 25th year of service in 2018. Originally formed at Columbia University Medical Center, the group provides pro bono short-term medical trips to indigent children and young adults with heart disease who live in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Countries we have served include: Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Peru, and the State of Chiapas in Mexico. The patients we evaluate and treat have congenital heart disease, acquired heart disease and often near-end-stage forms of rheumatic valvular disease.
In addition to providing expert patient care, the program attempts to build capacity in the host country by committing to a minimum of five years of support for medical and surgical services. In fact, we have been involved with our host for more than twenty years and the relationships we have built are ongoing. We provide some durable and disposable medical equipment not available in the host country, such as medications and bypass equipment. We donate some of this equipment for local team use. We also provide learning materials, offer lectures, direct hands-on training and mentorship all in an effort to raise the overall level of surgeon, physician, and nursing expertise. Our trips occur multiple times each year. All medical and surgical personnel who work at Heart Care are volunteers and have been recruited by us from leading medical institutions around the United States, Canada and the world. The group is multi-disciplinary and many current and former pediatric congenital cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, intensivists, nurses, perfusionists and respiratory therapists from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center participate.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) was officially created on December 22, 1971. MSF was established on the belief that all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, or political affiliation and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries. Medical teams in the field provide services ranging from basic vaccination campaigns to maternal and pediatric care to fighting neglected diseases to complex surgery. MSF also advocates for affordable high-quality medicines for the world's poorest people in more than 60 countries worldwide.
Children of China Pediatrics Foundation is a group that travels one to two times per year to China to provide general, orthopedic, urologic, and plastic-surgery repairs to children with congenital or acquired defects. Some of the children are orphans who would otherwise not have the opportunity to lead a normal life and some are children whose parents cannot afford the procedure. The foundation also sponsors Chinese physicians to travel to the United States to observe complicated procedures.
Healing the Children Northeast is a humanitarian group with offices in Connecticut that provides free treatment of maxillofacial deformities to underserved patients ranging in age from about ten weeks to 25 years. The team consists of oral maxillofacial attending surgeons and fellows, anesthesiology attendings, fellows, and technicians, and OR and PACU nurses. Sometimes, dental practitioners and pediatricians have joined the missions. In general, volunteers donate their vacation time and pay for their own airfare to the destination but in-country expenses are covered by charitable donations. Among the countries the group has provided care for are Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Bolivia.
Smile Train sponsors medical missions to developing nations in order to treat children and adults in need of surgical corrections. They focus on reconstructive plastic repair of congenital and acquired deformities in children, e.g., cleft lips and palates, burns, and congenital deformities.
Hands Help, Inc. was founded to provide hand surgery to individuals who are otherwise unable to be helped. The philosophy of the mission is to maintain the same standards of care as in accredited U.S. sites without using host-nation resources.
Medics on a Mission is an organization dedicated to providing medical and surgical services for the poor as well as advancing the education and skills of medical professionals in developing countries. Founded by CUMC faculty member Dr. Allison Lee, the organization relies on volunteer physicians donating their time and skills in collaboration with local medical professionals.