Urology team deploys to support New Horizons
By Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)
/ Published May 28, 2014
BELIZE CITY, Belize -- A U.S. Air Force surgical team has deployed in support of New Horizons Belize 2014 and will be conducting urology procedures and surgeries through the end of May at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, Belize.
The team consists of urologists, a urology resident, an anesthesiologist, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, an operating room nurse, surgical service technicians, and logistical and equipment support. They will accomplish two weeks of surgeries scheduled as part of New Horizons surgical readiness training exercises, or SURGRETEs.
"We're doing primarily reconstructive urology surgeries with occasional treatment of malignancies," said U.S. Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Toby Lees, a urologist and the surgical team lead. "These are procedures that typically aren't offered locally: urethral strictures, anatrophic nephrolithotomy, a penectomy."
The SURGRETE would not be possible without the collaboration of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital urologist and medical staff.
"We came down for a site planning visit in August, and we asked (the KHMH staff) what their needs were," Lees said. "Then they screened their patients ahead of time so we could hit the ground running, and we now have more than 20 operations scheduled."
The KHMH medical professionals reviewed the status of urology patients to determine who would best benefit from the Air Force team's presence, ensuring those needing a surgery not offered locally could get the chance for an improved quality of life.
"We're working primarily through the urologist here. He knows his patients, and some of them have pretty complex issues," said U.S. Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Forrest Jellison, urologist. "Together we evaluated the patients he recommended for surgery and developed treatment or surgery plans."
When not in the operating room, the New Horizons team plans on meeting with local medical professionals interested in the urology field for mutual training opportunities such as lectures and in-depth training with anesthesia and the operative nursing staff.
"Personally, I think it's a very valuable experience from a training perspective," Lees said. "This is a great training environment, especially for residents and those who have not deployed before."