Final Day – by Usha Barry, MD

After the previous long days in the operating room, we finished our
last day of cases refreshingly early.  With amazing efficiency, all of
the machines, equipment, medications and supplies were inventoried and
packed away to be stored in Kalibo until next year.  Extra supplies,
surgical scrubs, even our OR shoes were donated to the very
appreciative local hospital staff.  The ORs and recovery area were
once again empty except for a couple of tables.  There was no sign
left of what had taken place there for the last week.  It was a relief
to have completed the mission, but there was also a tinge of sadness
in those bare rooms.
Having been out of the hospital very little, I was eager to hear about
the experiences of the outreach volunteers who have been in the
community at schools, orphanages, and patients’ homes.  My husband,
Jeff, was able to accompany a patient home after discharge from the
hospital today.  Upon hearing his story and seeing his photographs, I
was struck with a sentimentality that had been missing this week.  Out
of necessity, the atmosphere in the OR was definitely one of “business
as usual” in order to get the operations completed.  But learning
about a little girl’s return to her rural home made real the impact of
those hours we’ve spent in the hospital.  I am grateful to the
outreach volunteers who have made the medical team’s work more
comfortable with a steady supply of drinks and snacks, made runs for
emergency supplies, delivered care packages to the patients, and in
every way have made the mission unique and meaningful through their
enthusiastic and empathetic interactions with patients, families and
the community.
The day ended with the (vice) Governor’s dinner reception.  After a
long week, I was tired and just wanted to sleep, but couldn’t neglect
the gracious show of appreciation and hospitality by our sponsors.
With food and speeches and singing and dancing, the Filipino’s thanked
us for our efforts here.  The experience was a surreal departure from
the rest of the week, but as I looked across the room at one of the
outreach volunteers, Kathy Snider, tapping her toes to the music, I
couldn’t help but sing along myself.  It has been a good week.
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