Preparation for the Mission to Ecuador

Author: Kristen Redhead

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My name is Kristen and I am one of the new physiotherapists who has joined the Pivotal Team. I am excited to be a part of such a supportive group of people here at Pivotal Physiotherapy, where volunteer work is strongly encouraged. I believe it is important to volunteer your time to help others, which is why I am joining CAMTA on their mission to Ecuador this February.

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Every year, CAMTA sends a group of medical and non-medical volunteers to Ecuador to perform orthopedic surgeries on adult and pediatric patients. These patients desperately need the surgeries but cannot afford it. CAMTA does not charge the patients but every patient pays a small fee to the hospital.  The hospital’s social worker bases the fee on the patient’s situation. The mission will consist of two teams of 50 members each and will perform at least 80 surgeries on adults and children.

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This year I am lucky to be joining the team on their 12th annual mission to Ecuador. The work that this organization does for the people of Quito is astounding. As a member of this year’s team, I will be providing physiotherapy services for the patients who receive these life-changing surgeries.
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Every patient who has had hip replacement surgery must be able to successfully climb CAMTA’s “stairs to recovery” before they can be released from the hospital. As many people have stairs that they will need to negotiate once they get home, knowing exactly how to climb them without risking injury is of paramount importance.  I will be joining the team to ensure that patients are able to accomplish tasks such as this so they can return home safely.

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Just last Saturday, the Physiotherapy team met at the CAMTA warehouse in Edmonton to pack supplies for the trip. We filled three hockey bags with crutches, walkers, raised toilet seats, long-handle shoehorns and spare crutch parts. Needless to say, my hands and clothes were in desperate need of some soap and water after the packing. Above is a picture of the bags from last year’s mission. Most bags weigh around 50lbs and every member of the team is responsible for one hockey bag at the airport…I better start hitting the gym.

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As the trip gets closer, I have many different emotions about joining the CAMTA team on this mission. I have never traveled to South America before and this will be my first volunteer mission away from home (Edmonton), which leaves me both excited and nervous all at the same time. As many of us do, I definitely take our health care system for granted and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to desperately need a surgery and not be able to afford it. I am excited to experience how people of a different culture live and can’t wait to volunteer my time to help change their lives. Wish me luck and check back for updates on the mission!

Kristen Redhead MScPT, Women’s Health Therapist

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