This blog is not for myself, but rather for the sake of our work in Bolivia, so I will keep my personal introduction short. Born, raised, and educated in Chicago, I am a graduating medical student at Northwestern University. Since a young age, I have been passionate about social justice, realizing that the privileges I was afforded as a child were not of my own doing but simply something I was born into. As Dr. Jim Kim, co-founder of Partners in Health and current president of the World Bank, stated following the disaster in Haiti, “By accident of birth, I happened to not be born in Haiti. And these children, by accident of birth, happened to have to live in this place that’s just had so many calamities, so many bad things happen to it.”
My belief in the value and equality of every human life – regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, education, or socioeconomic status – has driven me to medicine and international service. I have previously spent 7 months in Bolivia, working amongst likeminded expats who have dedicated their lives to serving the poor indigenous majority in the rural villages, as well as the marginalized street population in the capital city of La Paz. In my journey through medical school, I have found my calling in trauma surgery, with a specific passion for injury prevention, and recently received my certification in Advanced Trauma and Life Support (ATLS). I have returned to Bolivia for the next 3.5 months to conduct research and develop the infrastructure of trauma/prehospital care in La Paz.
As a graduating medical student, I am clearly under-qualified and under-experienced for most of this work. I am fortunate to have the partnership of Dr. Mamta Swaroop, a trauma surgeon at Northwestern with a similar passion, who has adopted my vision for Bolivia and helped develop the projects as described in later blogs. It is to her, and others of you reading this, that I am truly indebted, as what started as an individual pursuit to develop a trauma registry in Bolivia has developed into so much more.
A special thanks to:
- Dr. Swaroop, again, who will be joining me in March and May to train local hospital staff and taxi drivers in First Response and Basic Trauma Care. She has relentlessly committed countless hours to the development of these projects and personally invested in my own professional development in trauma care.
- Ms. Inge LeBlanc, ICU nurse virtuoso, who will be joining us in March to develop a Neuro Intensive Care Unit at Hospital Arco Iris to manage severe head trauma, ischemic stroke, and intracerebral hemorrhage.
- Ms. Jenn Mullen, ED nurse extraordinaire, who will also be joining us in March to implement the Emergency Severity Index triage system in the emergency department at Hospital Arco Iris.
- Dr. Justine Macneil and Dr. Elizabeth Cartwright of Crescendos Alliance for their friendship, wisdom, and prior work in La Paz that helped provide the initial direction of our projects.
- Dr. Kevin Broyles and Gwen Ellis of HOPEworldwide, and the dedicated hospital directors and staff at Hospital Arco Iris who have partnered with us and have been an invaluable support in the project’s infancy. Without Gwen’s support in organizing our projects at the hospital and without the incredible sacrifice of Dr. Christian Fuentes and Ms. Claudia La Fuente S., our projects could not have developed into what they are today.
And finally, for the countless family, friends, and colleagues who have provided relentless support over the years and allowed this dream of 7+ years to begin to be realized…thank you. I hope that you also will rejoice in any success we may have, and know that I, our, team, and those we hope to affect in the future are truly grateful.