By Vicky Whitley, RN
Surgical Services, CFRH
I recently had the privilege to attend a medical relief mission trip with Dr. John Robertson, General Surgeon, to aid the earthquake victims in Haiti. We went with a group called Children of the Nations, International. They had an existing medical clinic in Barahona, Dominican Republic, near the Haitian border. The clinic had been converted into a hospital and the United States Military had transported eleven children there from a clinic in Jimani so that they could receive more focused care.
The medical clinic became our base of operations for the twelve-day trip. Dr. Robertson evaluated the children’s wounds and decided on a plan of action. Many of the wounds were infected and most of the children required further surgery, while some needed daily dressing changes and debridement. One boy needed a significant stump revision, which was accomplished with a gigli saw. With the help of two other surgeons, Dr. Robertson was able to perform major skin grafting operations on four of the children using a manual dermatome and painstakingly meshing the grafts by hand using a scalpel.
To utilize our time there efficiently, we also performed numerous outpatient surgeries for children who previously needed surgery but were unable to afford it. Thanks to Dr. Robertson and the two other surgeons, we performed approximately sixty surgeries during our stay.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to witness Dr. Robertson in action and be a part of his team. Dr. Robertson’s gentle and friendly nature helped the children to relax and feel secure in his care. I watched him take extra time with the children and their parents using the help of a translator to make sure they understood what was going to happen.
Dr. Robertson maintained the highest standards of care in ‘not so perfect’ circumstances. He was flexible and able to improvise without sacrificing quality of care. He got along well with all members of the team and conducted himself in a professional manner. He was able to bring harmony between the different healthcare professionals and help them envision and realize a common goal and plan of care.
Watching Dr. Robertson work tirelessly for the benefit of others made me realize what a fine example of a caring doctor he is, and I would like to thank him for his many sacrifices. Thank you Dr. Robertson, you’re the best!