A Week in the Life of a Mission

Usually, a one-week mission begins months in advance with the credentialing of personnel and authorization of the mission through local authorities and the Ecuadorian government. Our Ecuadorian hosting organizations (Rotary Club of Latacunga, Fundacion Solidaria de Orellana in Coca, and Fundacion Tierra Nueva in Quito) are involved at this point, working with local officials and hospitals to clear our trip and secure an institution where we can effectively complete our work. They also manage patient recruitment and triage, mostly via print and radio advertising, as well as notices in the local hospitals and health centers.

Back in the States, we work on requisition of supplies, some salvaged and recycled or re-sterilized, others donated or purchased. This goes into high gear two months before we depart.


Team members travel to Ecuador and arrive Sunday morning


Surgeons, anesthesia staff and therapists evaluate all potential patients in a full-day clinic. 200 – 250 patients may be evaluated this day. Only those who will benefit from surgery and don’t present undue surgical risk are scheduled. The operating schedule is created to treat approximately 100 individuals. Identified local physicians and healthcare providers work with us to formulate plans and follow-up care.

While the clinic takes place, the nursing staff and other team members unpack supplies and prepare the operating rooms.

Monday – Friday

7 AM – 9 PM, Surgeries

We average 100 surgical cases per week. Historically, about 25% comprise patients with cleft lip and cleft palate related conditions. About 40% of cases are related to burn scar contractures, and about 10% are related to a variety of both congenital and acquired hand conditions. Over half of our patients are children.


Follow-up clinic. All patients are evaluated and post-operative plans are formulated, especially for those who might require additional services after our team departs. These include some of the hand and burn patients, as well as some cleft lip and palate patients who may require speech services. We work together with our partnered physicians and therapists to ensure excellent follow-up care and sustainability.


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Collage of images for a week in the life of a mission