In 1998, Michael McDonald, MD, an otolaryngologist from Madison, WI, joined a medical mission to La Ceiba, Honduras and saw a great need for Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) services. The ENT mission has grown to a yearly humanitarian trip to provide ENT surgery, hearing evaluation, and hearing aid dispensing to the people of Honduras.
The ENT Surgical team partners with the Vincente D’Antoni Hospital and local health care providers.
What to Expect
The 7-day trip typically starts the second Saturday of March. The team meets in the San Pedro Sula airport and travels together to the town of La Ceiba where we work together to organize equipment and donated supplies that arrived several weeks earlier by shipping container from Wisconsin. We start seeing patients in clinic on Sunday with local otolaryngology surgeon Dr. Rigoberto Tabora. We often see 60 to 70 patients in clinic and 40 are scheduled for surgery during the week.
Throughout the week, surgeons, surgical technologists, operating room nurses, anesthesiologists, and recovery room nurses participate in procedures in two operating rooms. Audiologists and many other health care professionals screen patients and take hearing aid molds.
Spanish speaking is useful, but not necessary. Local bilingual high school students help provide translation for patient care.
On Friday, the group works together to disassemble equipment and place it back into storage for the following year.
The ENT team treats thyroid cancer, middle ear disease, soft tissue trauma, sinonasal disease, and others. A second team prepares an audiology clinic space at the hospital for a busy week of hearing evaluation and hearing aid dispensing.
The team does not treat patients with cleft lip and palate.
Lodging and Safety
While Honduras has violent areas, the team enjoys safe lodging at a local hotel in the town of La Ceiba. All meals are provided as well as transportation within the city, although many choose to walk in groups as the hospital is close.
All Work and Some Play
Prior to the busy week of treating patients, the team has time to relax or go on an excursion (e.g, rainforest hike with water fall swim, whitewater rafting). The trip concludes with an evening dinner party at a local restaurant to celebrate accomplishments and visit with colleagues. While some participants travel home on Saturday, many extend the trip for R&R time on the nearby island of Roatan.