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What the Heck is an Obturator?

Dentist Tom Sentz and assistant Priyanka Agrawal had a busy few days attending to many of the patients with cleft palates.  They were asked to see patients who had failed palate repairs, those who still had a hole in their palate resulting in problems eating.  Tom and Priyanka made impressions of the patients’ mouths, then used the impression as a mold to fabricate a model of the mouth with dental stone (plaster).  They then used a plastic substance to form an obturator on the model.  After the substance dried, the obturator is trimmed and smoothed then fit into the patient’s mouth.  The main purpose of an obturator is to keep food out of the nose while eating.  Our dental team was so efficient that the patients who needed them were able to get their obturators before they left the hospital.

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The last case

Monday was a lon-n-n-ng day.  Because it was Monday and the first day of a mission in a new hospital, because the unexpected always pops up in these endeavors, whatever. At the end of the day, 14 children were seen in the OR for complicated, time-consuming procedures and given excellent pre- and post-surgical care. The staff had to endure long hours on their feet as well as delayed meals & bedtime. The patients and families however, waited not knowing exactly why it was taking so long, and not knowing exactly what would happen when their turn came around.  For the most part they waited stoically without uttering a single “What’s taking so long?? I’ve been waiting here for over 8 hours!” Our staff returned to the hotel in staggered groups, some about 9:00, some around 10:30, others not until 1:00 a.m.  I heard Leilani stayed even later. And I never heard a discouraging word from any of them.  They know...

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The Dr.Carlos Canseco Gonzales Foundation

The Dr.Carlos Canseco Gonzales Foundation has for several years played a key role in the success of Austin Smiles trips to Mexico.  Members of this small group (numbering only about eight) manage to perform mighty deeds. They provide meals and shelter for all the patients and their families. This year they paid for bus transportation for children who were coming from villages in the mountains and for nursing staff to cover the evenings when Austin Smiles medical staff return to the hotel to rest. These Foundation members quietly work behind the scenes to do things for us before we know we need them. They named their organization after Dr. Gonzales because he was a world renowned Mexican physician and the first Mexican president of Rotary International.  He was a key figure in the international campaign to eradicate polio. .

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A Family Tradition

Long-time mission volunteer Joe Gomez has been providing his wisdom and guidance on “39 or 40” Austin Smiles trips. Joe translates, is an expert in logistics, and intuitively attends to the many details needed to make the mission run smoothly. We were all thrilled that Joe’s son, Anthony, was able to come on this mission, a great tribute to his father who has given so much to Austin Smiles.

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Where We Work

We are incredibly fortunate to be working in a beautiful new hospital, Hospital General Dra.Isabel Carreon Garcia. Located in the Boca del Rio area of Veracruz, this modern, top-notch facility has just been open since January of this year.  Hospital staff have welcomed us with open arms and gone out of their way to accommodate us. They have allowed us to take over a large part of their space and have worked cooperatively with Austin Smiles team members to enhance the care of the patients.  For example, local nursing staff provides the overnight care for the children post-surgery and hospital doctors and nurses attend morning patient rounds with Austin Smiles doctors and nurses.

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