How It All Began
Dr. Peter J. Daly was initially exposed to bringing healthcare access to the underserved in 2001 during a month long volunteer position with Orthopedics Overseas in St. Lucia, West Indies. He brought along his wife LuLu, who is an R.N., as well as their four young children. Although he was professionally satisfied, he was unable to tangibly share those days with his family as he was leaving early in the morning and returning late at night.
In June 2003, the family volunteered at an orphanage in Honduras called Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), Spanish for “our little brothers and sisters,” where approximately 500 children are loved and raised into self-sustaining adults. NPH has eleven such orphanages located throughout Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. They house approximately 3,200 children who are not available for adoption, yet are brought up in a stable, loving family environment.
While their own pre-teens blended in with the Honduran children, Dr. Daly and LuLu volunteered at the clinica externa, NPH’s outreach to serve indigent adults and children in rural Honduras. The director of NPH asked Dr. Daly to evaluate Angela, a nine year old girl at the orphanage who had bilateral genu valgum of 70 degrees, which he later recognized as a manifestation of chondroectodermal dysplasia. Angela had to scissor one leg in front of the other in order to stand or walk. She used a wheelchair for longer distances and could not participate in physically straining activities such as soccer or dancing.
Dr. Daly was asked to “fix” her knees in a traveling operating room, which was a converted semi-truck trailer. This rudimentary surgical suite was complete with compromised sterility and inadequate safety measures.
Recognizing the disparity between the available facility and her deformity severity, the Daly’s instead brought Angela to their home in the U.S. for a yearlong orthopedic odyssey of several surgical procedures, months of rehabilitation, and involvement in their family life.
A GOAL IS SET
Angela’s need, and that of many other Hondurans, prompted the Daly family to raise $500,000 to build and equip the Holy Family Surgery Center (HFSC) on the NPH Honduras site. The goal of HFSC is to serve both the children of NPH and the surrounding indigent communities with local access to state of the art surgical care, complementing the primary care clinic at the orphanage. The intent was to develop a facility as an integral part of the national health care delivery system in Honduras.
Although building began in 2004, the project matured in 2008 after four 40-foot containers of donated equipment and supplies were gradually solicited, collected, and sent to the newly constructed, 5,000 square foot surgery center.
Many practical problems in delivering health care to the developing world were experienced during this time, with infrastructure being the main hurdle. An example of this is electricity. Power outages, abrupt voltage surges, and “brownouts” (weak voltage) were, and still are, daily occurrences and cause damage to expensive medical equipment. Since voltage regulating transformers and surge suppressors are necessities for equipment longevity, Dr. Daly obtained a diesel-fueled backup generator and installed an automatic transfer switch capacity in order to ensure power could be established in an operating room setting within seconds.
In order to protect the on-site machines from the ubiquitous sediment found in the water of Honduras, the water supply to the larger sterilizers required the design and installation of a custom filtration system. Power supply, water quality, and equipment maintenance/service are difficult, as well as expensive, and were some of the most basic obstacles to overcome before care could be delivered.
THE CENTER TODAY
In 2014, HFSC underwent a major renovation and expansion. Today, HFSC has 3 operating rooms, delivering orthopedic, ENT, gynecological, ophthalmologic, urologic, and general surgical procedures for outpatients and short stay patients. Facilities include 7 overnight stay bays where patients can recover, as well as a dental clinic and eye clinic opening in late 2015.
Surgical care and clinic visits are delivered by full-time HFSC staff and supplemented by brigade teams from the U.S. and other countries about 10 times a year. Visiting brigades and HFSC staff have treated over 12,000 patients from 2009 through 2015.
In late 2014, HFSC announced a new partnership with Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) and the Hayek Family Foundation. SCA is the largest outpatient ambulatory surgical care company in the United States. The first SCA-based brigade went down to the Ranch in March 2015 and was a great success.
Dr. Daly continues to lead medical brigades and travels to Honduras to provide care continuity, facility oversight, and to keep the momentum going.
HFSC CONFERENCE CENTER
Construction is underway for a brand new HFSC Conference Center which will include housing for 60 volunteers, 2 kitchens, outdoor courtyard and conference center for educational and social events. The HFSC Conference Center will open in late 2016/early 2017.