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Ear, nose and throat specialists provide care to local Guyanese

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kirsten Wicker
  • Joint Task Force Guyana Public Affairs
A U.S. Air Force medical team has begun work here at the Georgetown Public Hospital in the ear, nose and throat clinic to assist local doctors in providing specialty medical care to hundreds of Guyanese as part of New Horizons Guyana 2009.

The team, from the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, are subspecialists for medical conditions of the ear, nose and throat. Their skills range from pediatrics to sinus surgery to audiology.

"We have a unique ability to make a big impact because with ear, nose or throat conditions, we can provide care that doesn't need a tremendous amount of follow-up," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Boston, ENT team leader and pediatric physician. "We will be able to leave after two weeks and our patients will continue to do well."

The team came equipped with a rhinologist who can provide sinus surgery, a neurotologist for brain and ear conditions, an audiologist for hearing related concerns, an oncologist for cancer of the head and neck, two anesthesiologists and two operating room technicians.

"We are much more than a doctor-based team," said Maj. (Dr.) Erik Weitzel, team member and rhinologist. "Our operating room technicians have to work with our doctors to think through procedures and prepare materials and technology for successful surgeries."

With these specialty surgeries, the need for specialized tools must be met, so a variety of equipment and materials not normally available in Guyana was brought to be used by the team.

"They have less sophisticated forms of surgery here," Dr. Boston said. "The hammer and chisel techniques used in the U.S. in the 40s and 50s are still being used here, so we brought microscopes that we use to perform ear surgeries."

With ear surgery, minor procedures and general clinic care, doctors and technicians are staying busy.

The team will perform approximately 32 surgeries and see more than 500 patients in eight days. The team also brought several hundred pairs of hearing aids to give out.

"We are extremely busy," said Dr. Weitzel. "We will do about 70 minor procedures in addition to surgery and general care so it amounts to almost $1 million in health care provided."

While this training exercise is an opportunity for these doctors to perfect thier techniques, they said they enjoy helping the Guyanese people and there goal is to have healthy and happy patients.

"We found the patients to be very happy," Dr. Weitzel said. "We have been very well-received and they are extremely grateful for the care we are providing them."