Outreach Trip Report
Nuzvid, India, February 2004
Duncan Miles MD, FRCSC
Loma Linda University Department of Plastic Surgery
In February of 2004, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the community of Nuzvid, India. There the Gifford Memorial Hospital has been serving the community for nearly 75 years. It had a strong history of providing obstetrical and ophthalmologic care to the region. Adventist health India manages it, and a vibrant Adventist community has developed around the hospital including a school providing a full education and post-secondary education in nursing.
Approximately ten years ago, moneys donated to the hospital allowed the construction of a full service hospital with 150 beds. There is a larger ancillary staff with experience in all departments.
The surgical services provided by the hospital have suffered in the last few years because of management problems and lack of personnel. These problems have been addressed and now the hospital has the skills of a well-trained general surgeon and a new anesthetist. They are ready to provide service to the community.
I had the honor of meeting Dr. Rao and operating with him and his staff. The surgical team was obviously experienced and skilled. Recent communication with Dr. Rao has indeed confirmed that the surgical team is functioning again.
The Gifford Memorial Hospital is ready for a team of physicians to come to help invigorate and revitalize the hospital. There is a great need for plastic surgery services for hand surgery and burn reconstruction. Burns are very common in India. Homes are not insulated and kerosene stoves and lamps are ubiquitous. Brides are sometimes burned if their family does not provide an adequate dowry. The deformity, loss of function, and stigma of a burn is severe. I had the sad experience of denying a young, burned female for surgery because of lack of anesthesia care. This problem has been rectified. The team that is present is easily trainable and eager to have the opportunity to provide new services.
The Department of Plastic Surgery at Loma Linda University has a strong record of international service. We believe this service provides an opportunity to provide training to local physicians. As well, surgical residents exposed to this experience can develop a potentially lifelong commitment to service. We have the fantastic opportunity to return with a team of surgeons and rise to this challenge.