The non-governmental organization “Expedicionários da Saúde” offers specialized medical assistance and surgical procedures to indigenous populations in remote locations of the Amazon region. Siemens supported the last expedition with funding, the donation of a Skyhydrant, a raw water ultrafiltration unit, and by providing free loaning of two ultrasound systems – the portable ACUSON P10™ and ACUSON X150™. Siemens spoke with Ricardo Ferreira, MD, hip and knee surgeon, CEO of the organization.
You bring surgery to isolated areas. What kinds of surgery?
FERREIRA: Mostly cataracts and hernia. In the Equator zone, persons aged 45 or younger suffer from cataracts because of the light. And, they carry a lot of weight, so they need hernia surgery. Not being able to see or move in the forest is hard: You can not hunt or walk alone.
What is special about operating in the forest?
FERREIRA: We can not do a hernia surgery expecting that the patient would stay home and quiet the next day. We have to take care of them with high quality care, because these people use their body more than we do.
Was it hard to start the expeditions?
FERREIRA: In the beginning it was hard to convince the locals. I went ahead and talked to the chief of the community. I sent a boat, but not many people came. I heard they were thinking we exchange their eyes for horse eyes... We had to wait until the ones who had the surgery done went back to their village - able to see again. Then people started to come.
How do you adapt to the special needs of the patients?
FERREIRA: We always have an interpreter around. Also, we talk to the Shaman, the local doctor, to do the pre-op and post-op. And we adapt to their way of living, for example we have only hammocks in our recovery room.
What is your most remarkable memory?
FERREIRA: Once we had three brothers and a sister that were affected by congenital cataract. If you do not operate this until they are seven, they will be blind forever. They came blind, with their family supporting them walking. One day later, they were able to see again!
How does the Siemens equipment affect your work?
FERREIRA: The mobile ultrasound is helping a lot as we can move it to the most remote places. And, it is so beautiful to let pregnant women who have never seen an ultrasound picture see their babies. The best thing is the Skyhydrant, though. The system filters water and does not need any energy supply. I expect infant mortality and infectious diseases in the region to go down.
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The outcomes achieved by the Siemens customers described herein were achieved in the customer's unique setting. Since there is no "typical" hospital and many variables exist (e.g. hospital size, case mix, level of IT adoption) there can be no guarantee that others will achieve the same results.