Normally the medical team arrives in Ecuador late on a Saturday night. We may board a bus right away for our destination or, if too many hours away, spend the night in Quito and travel on Sunday morning.
After settling into our hotel (this year in Salcedo, three hours south of Quito) we unpack and sort the duffel bags of medical supplies, and the surgical team will waste no time getting to the hospital to talk with the administrators, look at the operating rooms and equipment available, and possibly begin screening a few patients for surgery on Monday.
Often, we are hosted also by city officials, mayor, council and always, always the press. Sometimes we’ve been on national TV.
Here is our medical director, Doctor Charlie Hendricks, in the hot seat with officials in the town of Cayambe last year. At his right elbow is Pablo Logacho of InterSalud, our host organization. It was a very friendly exchange and we were introduced to members of Operation Smile, who were to be holding a clinic to repair cleft lips and palates in the near future (see the poster Operación Sonrisa behind).