Dr. Falk and Dr. Baranika

U.S.A. Surgeon Reflects on Service To Others In Isolated Pacific Region

I was privileged recently to travel to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the central Pacific nation of Kiribati with Carlton Smith of Pacific Islands Medical Aid, Inc. (PIMA), to work with the doctors and staff at the small Ronton Hospital there.

I had worked as a volunteer general surgeon at the hospital on two earlier occasions and have another trip planned again soon.

The privilege of working with the dedicated over-worked, under-supplied staff and doctors at Ronton Hospital is hard to over emphasize. The healthcare workers and the community demonstrates a compassionate and caring attitude toward each other and to us volunteers that is inspiring.

Dr. Craig Ono and his team from Shriner’s Hospital in Honolulu joined us for the second week to see children with orthopedic problems. They are working out a relationship with PIMA, Ronton Hospital and the Kiribati government to treat patients with serious orthopedic maladies at their hospital in Honolulu.

There are already several patients being readied for this imposing undertaking. Carlton Smith and PIMA have been critical in arranging this program and negotiating appropriate agreements among all parties. The logistical underpinnings are staggering. Carlton is right there, with his sleeves rolled up, determined to do whatever is necessary to bring this vital care to the people of Kiribati.

The patients I see on the island represent a broad range of clinical problems. Some of the problems have solutions, others do not. The hospital staff itself has critical needs for improved medical records, help with equipment maintenance, staff training and vital infrastructure improvement.

The needs are overwhelming, but a sense of hope and progress pervades the team.

I can’t say enough about the doctors and staff at the hospital and my respect for the skill they bring to their work. Nor can I ever adequately express my gratitude and admiration for what PIMA has done for the people of Kiribati through working with the government and medical personnel in this isolated region of the world.

I would love to discuss this in greater detail with anyone interested and can be reached on my email at larryfalk@pacific.net.