Mead Minutes: Choosing to do more

Dr. Tim Mead at work

Greetings from the Meads! It seems like forever since I have written a letter. We are still in the US. Hurricane Irma made travel to the Dominican Republic hazardous. Flying through Atlanta near a Level 5 hurricane just did not make a lot of sense. My departure was pushed a few weeks hoping that no other storms arise. Then later, Jana and I will return to Davao City, Philippines finishing our international travel for 2017.

Traveling the world visiting the different CURE hospitals has been challenging and instructive. I admit, I like to go and settle for a while and work on developing a program while caring for kids. I like to lead and must work at being a good follower. Going to CURE hospitals as a visitor allows me to see how different hospitals in different countries function as they are lead by surgeons with different backgrounds. In orthopedics, we know there are many options in care. You make a decision based on experience (yours and others), training, and the best option for your patient. We want the benefits to far outweigh the risks. Risks always are present: performing surgery, not performing surgery; waiting, not waiting; doing a staged procedure, doing a single procedure—all choices have risks.

CURE International has a talented group of orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons with vast experience in treating physical disabilities. Since opening the first CURE hospital in Kijabe, Kenya in 1998, CURE physicians have pushed to improve the medical care for its people. Information has been shared and training has taken place. More doctors trained in the CURE holistic approach (emotional, spiritual, and physical) are now working in the developing world. The number of children needing specialty surgical care is still huge, but at least CURE has made an impact. Can we do more and better? Of course!

To do better, we need to continue to train surgeons in the care of children with disabilities. We must continually monitor quality issues and have frank discussions of ways to improve. Next year, CURE will gather a group of its orthopedic surgeons to look at some common deformities. We will look at the various treatment options including length of surgery, operating room needs, length of hospital stays, healing times, and outcomes. As I previously wrote, there are options which all work. As we look over the data, maybe we can come to a “best” option.

To do more requires a crystal-clear vision of who CURE is and what CURE does. We must be efficient in eliminating “good” ideas that distract from the “best” of the vision. Given the resource constrictions we have, how can we care for the most children in need? Is this expense in line with the vision? Some of the questions are very painful to discuss. If we “can” do a very complex procedure with high risk, high expense, and long length of stay, should we? Should CURE instead maybe do four other children with lesser deformities? Some may find that easy to answer, but imagine yourself facing a family where you are their only hope; the answer is difficult.

Another method to help more kids is to build CURE hospitals in countries where the needs are great and the options for care are few or none. Building hospitals and the yearly costs of running it represent a large expense. A clear calling is needed. The host country must truly want CURE to come in and serve, assisting CURE in helping children receive needed care. Finally, CURE needs special champions to commit to financially supporting a new effort both in construction and then ongoing life.

CURE International does some amazing work in areas where few others wish to go. I am proud of all CURE team members serving across the globe. My heart is sold out to caring for children with physical dsabilities. I love to watch lives transformed. We continue to serve in His grip.