Surgery on Sunday: Omaha, NE, October 2014


                Inguinal hernia is one of the most common ailments known to mankind. When symptomatic it can severely affect the patient’s quality of life. Nevertheless, the vast majority of inguinal herniorrhaphies are elective and, therefore, not available to uninsured patients who do not have the financial wherewithal to pay for the operation. Using the Surgery on Sunday model developed in Kentucky, Hernia Repair for the Underserved (HRFU) developed a free clinic for hernia surgery at Creighton University Medical Center (CUMC) two years ago, based on institutional commitment to the poor as well as the volunteer efforts of medical students and hospital personnel at CUMC and Bergan Mercy Hospital in Omaha.

                Hernia Repair for the Underserved consulted with a local free clinic physician, Dr. Hans Dethlefs at the One World clinic in Omaha and the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) medical legal protection application was submitted and accepted. Under this law, all hospital credentialed volunteer professionals are medico-legally protected if the surgery is performed in an associated free clinic. Committee meetings to work out logistics of the pre-op clinic, the follow-up clinic, enlistment of other volunteers such as transporters, translators, housekeeping for the ORs, a pharmacist, registration personnel were completed. A memorandum of understanding with the hospital system was co-signed.  The organizing committee was chaired by Matt Kayl RN and director of the CUMC and Bergan Mercy operating rooms.


                                                   Mission Report

Fifteen patients were seen in the pre-operative clinic by Dr. Dethlefs.   Patients were operated upon using 3 operating rooms and a volunteer staff of 4 surgeons, 4 anesthesia personnel, 15 nurses, 3 surgical technicians, two translators, one instrument cleaner, a logistics coordinator, a housecleaner, a pharmacist and 7 medical students.  Three umbilical hernias were repaired, and 13 inguinal hernias were repaired including two chronically incarcerated hernias.

                The average OR turn over time was 31 minutes and there were no intraoperative or early postoperative complications.   All patients were discharged home by 6:00 PM.  Below are pictures of personnel and OR teams.

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        Margie from Housecleaning                Renee our instrument cleaner


PACU team with Pharmacist        

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       Our translators Isis and Samantha                Four of the medical students


                                           The room 7 team


                                                            The room 8 team


                                                                The room 9 team


                                            The Pre-Op Post-Op Team


        Janese Gerhardt with a well-deserved thanks from one of the patient families

Special Thanks:

            Hospital administration is complicated in modern times but finding the time and finances to assist the poor has always been a priority at Creighton University.  Mr. Kevin Nokels, the CUMC hospital CEO, Matt Kayl and Pat Townley are thanked for their support and work.  Janese Gerhardt RN contributed over 40 hours of time to prepare the patients and paper work plus work during all clinics and the operative day – Janese thank you!  Sharon Cyr RN contributed over 20 hours and was essential to the success of this initiative.  Dr. Hans Dethlefs worked all the patients up and coordinated care beautifully.   Thank you to Dr. James Manion and Theresa Keefe CRNA from the anesthesia department who have been intimately involved in over 20 humanitarian surgical activities and provide compassionate very high quality care that makes continued programs possible, and to Dr. Robert Fitzgibbons who has headed the surgical team and provided hernia surgical expertise that is almost impossible to match.  Finally to the many other devoted volunteers who have repeatedly assisted the poor and to the new volunteers who in fact made this initiative possible.



Sao Paulo, Brazil September 2014

Sao Paulo Brazil September 2014


        Brazil is massive country with excellent surgeons and modern medical facilities.  Mesh repairs for inguinal hernia repair are commonly performed in urban areas and mesh is provided by the government for all patients rich or poor.  However, in rural areas the Lichtenstein mesh repair is less popular with the overall rate of mesh repair adaptation being 40% despite the availability of mesh.  To improve the incidence of mesh repair Dr. Sergio Roll, immediate past president of the Americas Hernia Society and board member of Hernia Repair of the Underserved (HRFU) organized a hernia training seminar.

                                   Mission Report – Sao Paulo, Brazil

The seminar organizing committee chaired by Dr. Roll included; Dr. Rodrigo Altenfelder at Santa Casa Hospital, Dr. Hamilton Brasil and Dr. Maurivce Youssef Franciss at Grarulhos Hospital and Dr. Armando Anelo Casaroli at Sao Luiz Gonzaga Hospital.

The teaching collaboration had the dual purpose of providing care to the underserved and fostering sustainability through training and collaboration with local Brazilian surgeons.  Eighteen in practice surgeons were trained on September 18th to the 23rd 2014.     Dr. Colleen M. Fitzpatrick a Pediatric surgeon, Dr. Dwijen C. Misra Jr, and Dr. David Chen all of the United States and Dr. Wolfgang Reinpold of Germany came to train surgeons and Dr. Tommy Lee observed to better understand the training process.  

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Dr. Fitzpatrick on the left then Dr. Roll next to her, Dr. Pedro, Dr. Reinpold, next to him Dr. Chen and Dr Marcelo.

Participating Hospitals included Hospital Central da Irmandade da Santa Casa de Sao  Paulo (Hospital Central) see below


          Hospital Geral de Guarulhos (HCG) and Hospital Sao Luiz Gonzaga.



The Lichtenstein mesh hernia repair was taught to 18 surgeons using the HRFU training protocol.  A standard rating form was utilized and all surgeons passed and will have a follow up video of a Lichtenstein repair sent to a panel of experts for review to determine if the training was effective.

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All 75 patients were out patients and of those, 1 developed a seroma that was treated conservatively and 4 had a hematoma one of which required outpatient drainage.

Surgeons trained were Marcelo Furtado, Maurice Y. Franciss,  Hamilton Brasil, Otavio Schimidt, Daniel P Palma,  Henrique Abrahão, Victor Bruscagin, Henrique Cunha Mateus, Enarco Grigolli Filho, Ronald Reverdito, Wilson de Freitas, João Carracedo, Ricardo Tadashi, Carlos Henrique Arruda Salles, Thiago Ijichi, Roberto Gonçalves, Luiz Fernando R. Alves de Moura and Marcelo Francez.  


Providing mesh to our affiliated surgeons is helpful and allows them to continue operating and teaching with optimal materials. All 18 surgeons practice in systems that care for the poor and after further review of their operative abilities may be encouraged to teach others. Thus the impact of the trip increases exponentially.  Covidien, Ethicon, B Braun, BioMedical-Atrium, Orcimed, Cristalia and Bard provided much needed supplies and we thank them for their important contribution.

        We greatly appreciate the team’s willingness to give back and provide the highest quality of care. This was an outstanding team with high quality people. Thank you Dr. Roll for organizing this landmark educational event and to his chairman Professor Dr. Antonio Jose Gonçalves who encouraged and provided the program support to make the seminar possible.

Paraguay, August 2014

Asuncion Paraguay


Hernia Repair for the Underserved worked with Dr..Juan Carlos Alvarenga Ibanez and the Paraguayan Ministry of Health on a hernia repair mission in August 2014 with the dual purpose of providing care to the underserved and fostering sustainability through training and collaboration with local Paraguayan surgeons. This was our second trip to the Luque District hospital near Asuncion Archidona. While there is modest poverty in this location, these patients have limited access to care due to socioeconomic, cultural, and geographic factors.



          Our surgical team included Dr. Campanelli and Dr. Marta Capalli from Milan Italy, Dr. Jim and Pat Manion from Creighton University, Dr. Cynthia Ferris and Tonya Daniels from Childrens’ hospital in Omaha, Dr. Rob Weinsheimer a Pediatric surgeon from Seattle and nurses and surgical technicians from Southern California (Debbie Edibiri, Sandy Highberg, her husband Greg and Carlos Zevallos) and Michigan (Dawn Porrit and Deb Bordine) – a truly diverse and outstanding group.  Dr. Ibanez arranged in-country logistic support, identified potential patients with the help of Dr. Victor Lurashi and partnered with local surgeons and the government to facilitate training.

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Trip Details

The team was on site for 6 days with 5 operating days. Fifty two hernia operations were performed by HRFU personnel and 3 Paraguayan surgeons were trained.  In addition, Dr. Campanelli gave a lecture on hernia repair that was attended by 150 surgeons and nurses.  There have been no  patient complications reported after 4 week follow-up. We were unable to perform Pediatric hernia operations because the Paraguayan Pediatric Hernia Society objected to HRFU personnel training general surgeons to perform a pediatric operation.  

After the trip most of the team journeyed to Iguazu Falls, one of the true wonders of the world.  Below they are pictured with the Falls in the background.  What a great picture!




The Lichtenstein mesh hernia repair was taught using the HRFU protocol to 3 surgeons by Dr. Campanelli.  A standard rating form was utilized and all surgeons passed and were given 20 pieces of donated mesh for operations on poor patients.  Later the surgeons will be videotaped using a GoPro camera and HRFU will send the videos to experts to review and determine if the training has been effective.


Providing mesh to our affiliated surgeons is helpful and allows them to continue operating and teaching with optimal materials. All 3 surgeons practice in systems that care for the poor and after further review of their operative abilities may be encouraged to teach others. Thus the impact of the trip increases exponentially.  The C. R. Bard Foundation provided donated mesh and we thank them for their important contribution.

        We greatly appreciate the team’s willingness to give back and provide the highest quality of care. This was an outstanding team with high quality people.  And thank you to Dr. Ibanez who facilitated all governmental, customs, and local logistics. and the staff at Luque District hospital including Dr. Luraschi who generously extended their hospitality to our team.

Haiti, November 2013

Pignon Haiti Hernia Repair for the Underserved Mission Trip summary

The team of Cynthia Ferris MD, Rachel Dowd RN, Theresa Alvarado RN, Libbie Choquette RN, Mary Drouillard RN, Bob Cusick MD, Bob Fitzgibbons MD, Hal Kaftan MD and Lesly Manigat MD traveled to Pignon via the ILAC center in Santiago Dominican Republic.  Here they are pictured upon arrival in Pignon.


The purpose of the trip was to train two Haitian surgeons, Dr. Emmanuel Regis and Dr. Arlet Isma on Pediatric and Lichtenstein hernia repairs.  Unfortunately there were insufficient Pediatric patients (3) for training.  Dr. Cusick was able to do one orchiopexy on a patient with cryptorchidism.  Dr. Fitzgibbons, was able to complete 12 groin hernia operations with the trainees and was very pleased with their operative skills.  Both surgeons were given mesh and will be part of general plan for training many Haitian surgeons in the near future.  Below shows a training procedure.


Data was kept on the operations performed and scores were tabulated. This will be utilized for further analysis and publications. An additional patient with multiple groin hernia recurrences was operated upon laparoscopically by Dr. Fitzgibbons.  See below.


Plans for future training include:

  1. Signing a memorandum of understanding between HRFU, the Haitian Surgical Association and the Haitian government for extensive training of Haitian surgeons in Pediatric and adult Lichtenstein repair
  2. Training the trainees on how to teach the procedures to other Haitian surgeons
  3. Eventually publish results of the training program featuring the benefits of the rating forms and feasibility

Dominican Republic, November 2013

2013 Dominican Republic ILAC Trip Summary

The most recent Dominican Republic trip was a success.  One hundred and eight hernia operations were performed and numerous other patients were examined and treated medically. As always the team members were grateful for the experience.

Dr. Robert Cusick and Dr. Lao were the Pediatric surgeons, Dr. Campanelli and Dr. Fitzgibbons plus Dr. Ed Buckley, Dr. Steve Kerns and Dr. Jarrod Kaufman were the adult surgeons.  The later three were there for Hernia Repair for the Underserved (HRFU) team leader training.  Dr. Manion led the anesthesia team followed by Dr. Guy Giroux, Theresa Keefe CRNA and Dr. Carl Heine.

The entire team performed well under Barb Elliott’s leadership.  Welcome back Barb.  There is continued enthusiasm on the part of the team members and ILAC staff members to continue our work at the ILAC surgical center.

There were many good moments and below are but a

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Below one of our post operative patients going into her home.


Surgeon Training:  One fully trained surgeon, Dr. Jean Fritz Jacques from Port au Prince Haiti was trained by Dr. Cusick on pediatric hernia repair and Dr. Campanelli on the Lichtenstein repair.  Dr. Jacque did well and was awarded 20 pieces of donated mesh for future Lichtenstein repairs on poor patients.  Below are pictures showing the beginning of training with Dr. Campanelli operating and the two surgeons after completion of 5 other groin hernia operations performed by Dr. Jacque with Dr. Campanelli first assisting.  After each of the 5 operations a written rating form was used to assess surgical performance by Dr. Jacques.

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Training has become an important part of the HRFU mission.  Many hernia repairs need to be performed but surgeon training and eventually if protocols are followed, training of those surgeons to be trainers will occur.

Ecuador, October 2013

Archidona, Ecuador



Hernia Repair for the Underserved collaborated with Timmy Global Health on a hernia repair mission in October 2013 with the dual focus on providing care to the underserved and fostering sustainability through training and collaboration with local Ecuadorian surgeon partners. This was our second trip to this site in Archidona, a city of 4000 within Napo Province.

Access to quality healthcare in the Amazon Basin is extremely low. The public hospital in Tena, operated and funded by the Ecuadorian government, is consistently understaffed and over capacity. The Timmy Foundation has developed an organized, well-run network providing primary care services to the indigenous, Quichua patient population. Hospital based services are delivered at the private, non-profit Stadler Richter Hospital which provides high quality care and outreach to the poor. While there is modest poverty in this location, these patients have limited access to care due to socioeconomic, cultural, and geographic factors.



Our surgical team was a collaboration between UCLA, Denver Children’s Hospital, and the Timmy Foundation and consisted of three surgeons, three anesthesiologists, one internist and six nurses. Our local partners from the Timmy Foundation arranged in-country logistic support, identified potential patients, partnered with local surgeons and government, and facilitated training.

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Trip Details

The team was on site for 6 days with 5 operating days. Over 80 patients were screened and evaluated. 55 operations were performed in Archidona and Dr. Partrick assisted on a complex pediatric case at Tena Hospital. Patients were between 1 and 78 years old and  11 pediatric cases were performed. 30 umbilical, 24 inguinal, 3 recurrent, 2 femoral, and 1 ventral hernias were repaired. There have been no complications reported after 2 months of follow-up with our local surgeon.

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Training in Lichtenstein technique and mesh based repairs in Ecuador is different from that in many of our other HRFU sites.  The Ecuadorian surgeons are highly skilled, well-trained in tension free technique, and do have access to mesh. Limitations come from diminished availability and quality of mesh and the lack of capacity to care for the burden of disease in the public system. Our training with Dr. Patricio Moretta Suarez and Dr. Jose Llumuca focused on optimizing technique for challenging cases, performing surgery utilizing only local anesthesia, recurrences, and remediation of pain. Dr. Moretta from Quito and Dr. Llumuca from Tena participated in our training collaboration with 17 cases performed together over 2 days.

Fortuitously, the higher complexity of cases selected for our training was better tailored for this circumstance. Our Ecuadorian surgeons felt that it was not feasible to operate under local and were clearly convinced otherwise, doing both scrotal hernias and extraperitoneal ventral repairs under local. Three recurrent hernias all had prior mesh based repairs indicating the utilization of tension free techniques in country. Two large femoral hernia repairs were performed demonstrating modifications to standard Lichtenstein technique to address this anatomy.  Two triple neurectomies were performed for coexistent inguinodynia. For both trained surgeons, it was more appropriate for them and helpful to deal with these advanced scenarios.


Providing mesh to our affiliated surgeons would be helpful and allow them to continue operating and teaching with optimal materials. Both surgeons practice in systems to care for the poor and have the ability and desire to train others. The Timmy Foundation’s local coordinators can help to ensure that our mutual goals are met by providing local contact and support to our affiliated surgeons. Both Ecuadorian surgeons “greatly enjoyed the collaboration between the teams and very much look forward to the opportunity to work with Hernia Repair for the Underserved in the future.”

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Support and Acknowledgments

The local government of Napo Province and its local public health affiliate Patronato generously extended its hospitality to our team facilitating all governmental, customs, and local logistics. The Timmy Foundation is an incredibly valuable partner with similar goals and vision and was instrumental in ensuring the success of this mission. Covidien Hernia Solutions generously donated all mesh for this trip allowing us to train and operate with some of the highest quality products available. Americares generously provided material and logistic support donating over 1000 pounds of equipment, supplies, and medications making our operations possible. Hernia Repair for the Underserved is immensely grateful to the donors that support our mission to provide the highest quality care to the poor and train others to continue this work. The kindness and concern of all of those that support us made this trip and our other HRFU missions possible. They are without a doubt good for all involved.


Dajabon, October 2013

HRFU Dajabon hernia team trip summary – first draft

Our mission in Dajabon started on Sun. Oct. 10th 2013.  On the way to Dajabon, on an ILAC bus, we met Dr. Lesly Manigat and together with him we arrived at the guest house of the textile factory CODEVI.  The textile factory is located on the Haitian Dominican border between Dajabon and Quanaminthe Haiti.  Our accommodations at CODEVI were prepared and absolutely decent as well as the refectory and the quality of the food prepared by them.

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On Sunday afternoon we immediately went to the Ramon Menla Hospital in order to unload the huge quantity of supplies, medicines, instruments and meshes and to take a look at the operating sites.

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Upon our arrival we were able to get the OR and the adjacent rooms opened by a local nurse that was surprised about our presence there.  The rooms next to the OR were basically 4; one for sterilization and storage of the material, one for the pre-surgical stay of the patient, one for the doctors’ wardrobe and one as entrance.  The sterilizer was old but with the help of a local person we were able to provide safe sterilization


The two ORs were illuminated only by the light coming from the windows without any electric light source so our surgeries were executed with a table light and the outside light.  The anesthesia equipment wasn’t working despite efforts to have it repaired.  In spite of the unexpectedly poor logistic situation we were able to set up everything in order to start the surgical session on Monday morning.

But on Monday morning there were no patients, no local doctors, no chief doctor and no chief executive and only in mid-morning, after a long investigation, were we able to talk to the chief executive.  However, thanks to the help of Dr. Manigat and the fact that the news about our arrival was spread out, on Tuesday afternoon we started with our first operations both on Dominican and Haitian patients but at the end we were able to do only 30 surgeries throughout the whole week.  In spite of all this we were able to do the training of a Haitian surgeon Dr. Lamah, using the HRFU validated rating forms for the Lichtenstein repair.  Upon completion is was given 20 pieces of donated mesh to be used on poor patients only.   See the below photographs.

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Thanks to Dr. Filipi, Dr. Manigat, Dr. Cavalli, Dr. Pelizzola, Dr. Pavoni, Dr. Shambhu, Dr. Boutrous, Dr. Piludu, Mr. Del Monte, Miss Minnick, Miss Fry and Mr. Maffioli.  The patients did well and the training was satisfactory despite the logistics being very poor with the local cooperation being practically non-existent despite previous assurances.  Therefore our organizational effort was out of proportion as compared to what were actually able to achieve.

Prof. Giampiero Campanelli