Nuzvid, India, February 2005
Gifford Memorial Hospital
Brinda Thimmappa, MD
3rd Year Plastic Surgery Resident
Loma Linda University Medical Center
Dr. Sehdev and I worked with Mrs. Jothi Kennedy, the vice-principal of the nursing school, to prepare talks on breast cancer. We began with a talk to the nurses on risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and self-examination. We were approached by a staff member who was a breast cancer survivor. She offered to share her story with the group and show her mastectomy scars. This was one of the many examples of individuals at GMH that came forward to help us with our mission and to strengthen the hospital community. The evening following the talk, I was visited at my room by a group of nurses who were concerned about lumps they had found on self exam and wanted me to come back to the hospital to examine them. This was repeated for several nights. Nurse Kennedy was excited by this response and approached the hospital administrator with her ideas for repeating the talk for the community and offering free clinics for breast examinations. With the help of a former nurse and now assistant administrator, Mr. Ganta Paul, the handouts I prepared were translated into Telegu, the local language. Once again the rickshaws traveled the town advertising the free clinics. The following talks were filled with even more questions, and the clinics for the remainder of my stay were filled with women I had met in the talks. Some brought their daughters or mothers as well.
I was overwhelmed by the response our education efforts received. As a resident, I give talks to my peers or provide patient education daily, yet I had never experienced this kind of emotion. The people of Nuzvid and GMH empowered themselves with the small amount of education I provided and sought further information and care.
Our hope is to return to GMH with Operation Good Samaritan in 2007 as fifth-year plastic surgery residents. During our short stay, Mrs. Kennedy and Mr. Paul became new mentors. Their energy and ambitions for GMH demonstrated to me how our small efforts in Nuzvid could change the lives of many. The desire for learning was resonated in their students and staff. They sent us home with a list of topics that they want to learn about on our next visit.
This outreach program was supported in part by a generous contribution from Robert Hardesty, MD.