Walk Nicaragua Day 1 – Team Arrival 

10:30 PM Managua, Nicaragua

Walk Nicaragua Day 1 – Team Arrival

Hello! My name is Sarah Voges and I am the team leader for our inaugural trip with Palmetto Medical Initiative (PMI) to Esteli, Nicaragua! On behalf of Dr. Del Schutte, Dr. Uriel Diaz, we would like to thank you for your support and prayers as we begin this exciting new journey in Nicaragua. It has been an honor to bring Dr. Schutte’s vision of a sustainable joint replacement/orthopedic surgical service to Nicaragua. We could not have made this trip possible without the generous donation of implants and instruments from Crosslink (Stryker) Orthopedics. And without the assistance of Dr. Seth Kupferman and Dr. Steve Smith, who have graciously joined us for this trip!

I am excited to report that our travels to Nicaragua today were without incident! All our totes are accounted for all and so are our volunteers. I’d like to take the time to thank Palmetto Medical Initiative and their team on the ground here in Nicaragua, especially TJ McCloud (Central American regional director) and Oscar Ibarra (volunteer coordinator), for all their support! Their first class team has made us feel welcome and right at home here in Managua! Their energy and hospitality are beyond words and we are grateful to be blessed with such amazing people to guide us through this whole process!

Tomorrow we are looking forward traveling from the capital of Managua to the central northern town of Esteli, Nicaragua where we will set up camp the next 4 days and work along side Dr. Diaz and his team at Hospital San Juan de Dios to perform 25 total knee replacements. From our experiences in the US, we know how disabling advance arthritis and musculoskeletal deformities can impact a one’s life. These disabilities prevent them from being able to work and provide for their families or even complete the neccessary acts of daily living. For many Nicaraguans work equals life. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Central America, and the average citizen makes less than $2 a day working in the laborious agriculture industry known for their produce, coffee, and tobacco.

Even after spending most of our day in airports and traveling by plane, our group of 24 volunteers from South Carolina, Georgia, and New Jersey are energized and inspired by our mission here in Nicaragua. We will not only provide surgeries this week, but we are working hand in hand with the hospital staff to provide medical, nursing, and physical therapy education. We are also employing and training two Nicaraguan Physical Therapists to treat our patients after we go home. It is our desire to establish this mission in Esteli so that we can return 3 to 4 times a year to provide a sustainable total joint service to this community, and make Esteli a known total joint center within Nicaragua.

Just to think, that this time last year we were planning our first hospital survey in Nicaragua, and now we are here with a team! We could not have gotten this far in so little time without Dr. Schutte, PMI, Crosslink, and all of our volunteers, friends and family to support us! Please continue to follow us through our blog this week! We can’t wait to share with you all our fun adventures and patient stories.