Fellows honored for volunteerism

The Board of Governors’ Committee on Socioeconomic Issues has announced the recipients of the 2012 American College of Surgeons (ACS)/Pfizer Surgical Humanitarian Award and Surgical Volunteerism Awards. As in previous years, the committee received many exceptional nominations, reflecting the remarkable commitment of the Fellows of the College to the care of the underserved.

Surgical Humanitarian Award

The ACS/Pfizer Surgical Humanitarian Award recognizes ACS Fellows who have dedicated a substantial portion of their careers to ensuring that underserved populations receive surgical care. And while this work may constitute a large part of their career, they have done so without expectation of commensurate compensation. This year, two such extraordinary individuals will receive this award.

Dr. deVries (center) with Drs. Africa Gasana (left) and Mbassi Achille at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Moshi, Tanzania.

Catherine R. deVries, MD, FACS, FAAP, of Salt Lake City, UT, has been selected to receive the 2012 Surgical Humanitarian Award for dedicating 20 years of her career to improving urological care around the world.

A practicing pediatric urologist, Dr. deVries began her international volunteer career during residency training when she visited Honduras with the not-for-profit, Interplast. Recognizing the still unmet needs of children with genitourinary conditions and anomalies, she started to develop a model of care tailored to the conditions they faced in settings with limited resources.

In 1994, Dr. deVries founded International Volunteers in Urology, the first not-for-profit organization specifically focused on teaching urology in resource-poor settings. Using a comprehensive, sustainable approach that is adaptable to a variety of settings and cultures, IVU (since renamed IVUmed) oversees highly skilled professional teams that train physicians and nurses throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas in almost all areas of urology.

The far-reaching impact of these educational partnerships can be seen in countries such as Vietnam, where early IVUmed trainees have established a urology training center in Ho Chi Minh City, which treats more than 1,000 patients annually and trains local physicians to work throughout the country. In Honduras,  local partners now conduct their own surgical outreach workshops. Similar successes have been achieved in the 30 countries where IVUmed is active and further leveraged by a wide range of international partnerships.

IVUmed’s commitment to shaping the future of international outreach also is evident in the scholarships it provides to urology residents for supervised international experiences. Dr. deVries’ dedication and leadership in global health have resulted in IVUmed’s impressive growth from a small nonprofit to the leading organization for global urological care and education.

Her commitment to global surgery extends beyond her work at IVUmed: She serves as a member of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Alliance to Eliminate Filariasis and the Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgery Committee (GIEESC). She was the first female member of the Board of Chairmen of the Société Internationale d’Urologie (SIU), where she chairs the International Relations Committee. She is also a member of the Alliance for Surgery and Anesthesia Presence Today.

Dr. deVries teaches at both the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, and Stanford (CA) University School of Medicine on such topics as surgery and public health, and engineering innovations for the developing world. She recently founded  the Center for Global Surgery at the University of Utah, a unique collaboration among the engineering, business, and medical schools with involvement across eight surgical divisions and anesthesia. She is the center’s director.

Dr. deVries graduated from Harvard University, Boston, MA, before receiving a master’s degree in pathology from Duke University, Durham, NC, and a medical degree from Stanford University. She completed her urology residency at Stanford, followed by a fellowship in pediatric urology at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. White with a patient.

Russell E. White, MD, MPH, FACS, FCS (EASC), will receive the Surgical Humanitarian Award for a career dedicated to improving surgical care in Bomet, Kenya, where he serves as chief of surgery and surgery residency director at Tenwek Mission Hospital.

Born in the Belgian Congo, where his parents worked as medical missionaries, Dr. White was later raised in northern Michigan. Educated at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, NY, and the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, he pursued a master of public health degree at Harvard University during his general surgery residency at Brown Medical School, Providence, RI, followed by a thoracic surgery fellowship at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, England. Throughout graduate school and postgraduate training, he engaged in volunteer medical work in both the local community and Africa. He relocated to Kenya in 1997 to pursue full-time the post of chief of surgery at Tenwek, a 300-bed tertiary referral hospital with a catchment of more than 8.5 million.

Dr. White has a special interest and expertise in esophageal cancer, the most common malignancy in Kenya. His presence at Tenwek has influenced its evolution into the busiest center in Kenya for palliative and curative treatment of esophageal cancer as evidenced by his caseload of approximately 2,000 patients and his extensive research on the etiology, screening, and treatment of this disease. In addition, Dr. White recently established a cardiac surgery program to address the high local incidence of rheumatic heart disease. Through Dr. White’s leadership, Tenwek actively collaborates with many academic and governmental institutions in the U.S. and Africa on these efforts.

Dr. White was instrumental in establishing Tenwek’s general surgery residency program in 2008 and has overseen it since as program director. One of the first surgical residencies in Kenya located outside Nairobi, the program is accredited through the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons. The five-year program is now at full maturity with 10 active residents and will graduate its first class at the end of 2012. Since 1997, Dr. White has overseen a one-year rotating internship that accommodates another 16 surgical trainees and has helped develop the family practice residency program. Dr. White spearheaded the funding and construction of multiple hospital facilities to accommodate these training programs and to improve the hospital’s surgical, endoscopy, and radiology facilities.

Dr. White’s involvement in surgical education extends beyond the hospital and across borders. He serves as an oral examiner for COSECSA and coordinates the writing of their qualifying exams; collaborates on surgical and oncology training programs in Malawi, Zambia, and South Sudan; is an associate professor of surgery at Brown University; and supervises surgical residents on rotations to Tenwek. He is also on the staff at Rhode Island Hospital, where he works with medical students and residents.

Surgical Volunteerism Award

The ACS/Pfizer Surgical Volunteerism Award recognizes ACS Fellows and members committed to giving back to society through significant contributions to surgical care as volunteers. This year, three such awards will be granted.

Dr. Brady with a patient at La Clinica.

Brendan C. Brady, MD, FACS, will receive the Surgical Volunteerism Award for domestic outreach in recognition of his extraordinary service to the underserved migrant population in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

A Buffalo, NY native and resident of Canandaigua, NY, Dr. Brady received his undergraduate education at Canisius College in Buffalo and the University of Toronto, ON, from which he graduated. After completing medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo and residency at Buffalo General Hospital, Dr. Brady practiced general surgery with the Canandaigua Medical Group in Canandaigua for the next 30 years.

When his children were out of college, Dr. Brady revisited his initial motivation to pursue medicine: to help those most in need. He engaged in volunteer work initially with InterVol, a Rochester, NY, community-based not-for-profit organization, using his own vacation time for several years to provide relief for the sole surgeon at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

It was a 2004 encounter with a migrant farmworker, however, that motivated Dr. Brady to contact and offer his services to Finger Lakes Migrant Health (since renamed Finger Lakes Community Health), a community health center providing basic health care to approximately 8,600 migrant farm workers in upstate New York.

Understanding the significant barriers this itinerant population faces in accessing quality surgical care, such as lack of transportation, language, and cultural barriers, as well as financial costs, Dr. Brady established a surgical clinic to augment the primary care and mobile health services provided by the agency. In addition to consulting and treating patients at the monthly clinic, Dr. Brady made arrangements with F. F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua to address more serious conditions at reduced rates by offering his services gratis. As a result of these efforts, migrant farm workers in the Finger Lakes area are able to receive surgical care otherwise unavailable. Many have had operations, such as hernia repair, that enable them to continue working so they can provide for themselves and their families. As Dr. Brady approaches retirement, his efforts are focused on developing a network of surgeons that will provide predictable, affordable, and high-quality care for the migrant population.

For 20 years, Dr. Brady also has served on the Board of Directors and as an officer of the Monroe Plan, an initiative that provides the underserved in the greater Rochester area with stable health insurance and access to physicians and other health care providers. Dr. Brady’s dedication to the underserved also extends overseas; since 2006, he has volunteered each year at the Hôpital Sacré-Coeur in Milot, Haiti, through the Center for the Rural Development of Milot Foundation, Inc.

Dr. Price leading a laparoscopic Nissen course in Mongolia.

Raymond R. Price, MD, FACS, will receive the Surgical Volunteerism Award for international outreach in recognition of his contributions toward improving surgical care in Mongolia and other countries, as well as his commitment to promoting the importance of surgery worldwide.

Dr. Price practices general and trauma surgery with the Intermountain Surgical Specialists in Salt Lake City, UT. He also is director of graduate surgical education at the Intermountain Medical Center and adjunct associate professor in the departments of surgery, family practice, and preventative medicine at the University of Utah. He is a founding member and associate director of the university’s Center for Global Surgery.

Dr. Price’s passion for global outreach developed while serving as a missionary in Thailand during his undergraduate years at the University of Utah. While at Harvard Medical School and during surgical residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital he volunteered extensively to support refugees from Southeast Asia. Over the past decade, he has focused on improving education and access for surgical care globally, particularly in resource-poor areas in Indonesia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Ecuador, China, Belize, Nigeria, Haiti, and Mongolia.

Dr. Price’s most significant work has been in Mongolia, where he has guided the country’s transition toward laparoscopic surgery through his role as the medical programs director for the Swanson Family Foundation. His collaboration with the Health Sciences University of Mongolia and the Mongolian Ministry of Health has led to the establishment of laparoscopic surgery in the capital and the creation of regional treatment and diagnostic referral centers throughout Mongolia. These efforts also have provided a vehicle to improve and expand basic and emergency surgical care through education and infrastructure enhancements.

Dr. Price has been granted the Medal of Honor from the Mongolian Minister of Health, honorary membership in the Mongolian Surgical Society, and professorship at the University of Mongolia, all in appreciation for this work.

Dr. Price is actively involved in many national and international surgical efforts, including the ACS Committee on Trauma at both state and national levels, and the International Medical Surgical Response Team West. He is the ACS Governor from Utah and chairs the Governors’ Subcommittee on International Chapters. He serves on the International Committee of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, is a member of the Alliance for Surgery and Anesthesia Presence Today, as well as the WHO GIEESC, and is a former medical advisor and current board member of the humanitarian alliance, Ascend. At the Center of Global Surgery at the University of Utah, Dr. Price and Dr. deVries  have developed and promoted sustainable approaches to surgical care in resource-poor areas.

Dr. Petroze with her team of student interviewers after completing the Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical Need in Rwanda.

Robin T. Petroze, MD, will receive the Surgical Volunteerism Award for outreach during residency for her collaboration with the medical leadership in Rwanda to improve the quality and availability of surgical care.

Dr. Petroze is a general surgery resident and research fellow at the University of Virginia (UVA), Charlottesville, and a research fellow at the faculty of medicine at the National University of Rwanda.

Originally from Fort Mitchell, KY, Dr. Petroze graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2003, and volunteered for a year as an English and science teacher at St. Vincent Strambi High School in rural Jamaica. While attending the University of Cincinnati (OH) College of Medicine, she volunteered in health clinics in underserved areas throughout the city. Her first encounter with global health was with the Cincinnati-based Village Life Outreach Project in rural Tanzania, an experience she credits with teaching her the importance of partnership and sustainability in international development. As an intern at UVA, she traveled with Medical Ministry International to the Dominican Republic to participate in surgical outreach.

In 2010, Dr. Petroze was awarded a Fogarty International Clinical Research Fellowship to study the burden of surgical disease in Rwanda, which included conducting a nationwide hospital survey to define surgical capacity; developing and implementing a trauma registry at the two university teaching hospitals; and conducting a nationwide population study to determine surgical needs at the community level. For each project, Dr. Petroze initiated numerous collaborative efforts, working closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the academic medical community, and community surgeons. She further worked to foster communication and collaboration among local and international surgical partners in Rwanda by helping to organize the first Strengthening Rwanda Surgery meeting. In addition, Dr. Petroze was a volunteer instructor for a 2011 Advanced Trauma Life Support® course that certified every surgeon in the country and was later invited to assist the Ministry of Health in developing a national injury care and prevention plan. Dr. Petroze’s collaborative approach, her focused advocacy efforts, and her deep respect and appreciation for the local surgeons have led the Rwandan surgical community to fully embrace her efforts. In recognition of her active engagement and work with the department of surgery at the National University of Rwanda, including encouraging research among her peers, advocating for surgical capacity building with the Ministry of Health, and volunteering time to teach and mentor medical students, in 2011, she was named a research fellow by the faculty of medicine at the university.

Dr. Petroze is completing an MPH at UVA and is involved in developing sustainable programs for international surgical education and development. She has been instrumental in developing an educational exchange between the University of Virginia and the surgical training program at the National University of Rwanda.

The extraordinary contributions made by Drs. deVries, White, Brady, Price, and Petroze will be formally recognized at the annual Board of Governors dinner Tuesday, October 2, during the annual ACS Clinical Congress in Chicago, IL. Congress attendees are invited to hear them speak about their ongoing work and the inspiration behind it at the panel session, Humanitarian Surgical Outreach at Home and Abroad: Reports of the 2012 Volunteerism and Humanitarian Award Winners (PS107), which will take place Monday, October 1, 9:45 am to 1:00 pm. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet them and others dedicated to surgical volunteerism in all its many forms at a volunteer networking reception later that evening at the Murphy Auditorium.

Full details on these events will be available in the Clinical Congress Program Book and on the Operation Giving Back website.

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