Healing the Children Northeast
Spring Newsletter 2023
Save the Date:

Healing the Children Northeast’s annual golf outing will take place on Tuesday, June 13 at Waccabuc Country Club in NY.
We will be posting registration forms
on our website soon https://htcne.org  
Even if you are unable to attend in person, please consider a contribution to support our annual fundraising event.

As we look back on 2022, our Healing the Children Northeast volunteers and staff have a lot to be proud of.

We completed five trips: two cleft teams, one plastic reconstructive team, one speech team, and one dental team.

Our teams screened 783 patients and provided services to 609 patients, with a total of $3,158,230.63 in donated medical services for all three of our programs. There were 74 team members that traveled during 2022, including 23 new volunteers.

With a focus on foreign assistance, we sent a medical team into Ukraine that treated 34 patients who were victims of war trauma, both civilians and soldiers. HTCNE donated nearly $58,000 in supplies to support the hospital and medical partners we worked with in Ukraine. This was a new undertaking for our surgical team members, one that was very meaningful for our volunteers, our partners in Ukraine and the patients we served. 

In 2022, the International Inbound Program provided assistance to three children in need of surgery. One girl from Ecuador required surgery on her arm and leg, one girl in Ethiopia needed facial reconstructive surgery, and we were able to bring another child from Ethiopia to the US for treatment for heart surgery. The surgeries amounted to $751,355.11 in donated services for these children. 

The Domestic Kids Program provided $3,000 in financial support to children in our local area. This includes the annual scholarships awarded to three New Milford High School graduates pursuing careers in the medical field, as well as financial support to two local families in need.

Since the start of 2023, we have sent surgical teams to Santa Cruz, Bolivia & Cartagena, Colombia, along with two trips to Ukraine.

Our Board Member, Debbie Fritz, RN, traveled as an HTCNE representative and partnered with Face the Future Foundation, returning to a hospital in Eastern Ukraine in March. Debbie wrote this account of her experience:

On March 23, 2023, I had the privilege and honor of returning to Ivano-Frankivsk Ukraine for the second time. These missions were to help soldiers and civilians injured by the ongoing war.  This current mission was led by the Face the Future Foundation, an organization based in Canada, and I was a team member representing Healing the Children Northeast. This was my 31stmission with HTCNE.

Our team was comprised of team members from Texas, Maryland, Ohio, New York, and Canada; for some members this was their very first medical mission. Dr. John Frodel, and I were members of the team that traveled to Ivano-Frankivsk in September 2022, so this was like going home to see old friends and colleagues. Our team would once again be collaborating with Dr. Nataliya Komashko and her amazing surgical team that are all part of her Still Strong organization.

The planning that goes into these missions is extensive. We all gathered together for several months on weekly zoom meetings that were hours long, to virtually screen every potential patient, develop operative plans for each patient and, plan for the creation of patient specific implants for those patients that would require them. As well, we constructed supply lists and developed the travel details and logistics for the mission. In the end, we were able to perform 32 procedures on 30 patients over 4 days of operation. Some of these patients were people which we had cared for on the previous mission who required follow-up surgery.
In addition to providing surgical treatment and care, our doctors provided a day of lectures and teaching to hundreds of Ukrainian colleagues, we nurses provided a day of seminars and education for 66 nurses, and the first two days of our surgeries were live streamed to over 600 doctors throughout Ukraine. 

While taking care of one of our patients I noticed some blue and yellow beads around his neck and through an interpreter I asked what they were.  He took them out from under his shirt and said that all of the soldiers are given these when they head to battle...they were Rosary Beads so that they could pray.  This made me very sad as the realization of the harsh reality of war came a little more into focus.

The stories and injuries are heart-wrenching.  Some of our patients we can help to physically look more like themselves, like they used to look before the war changed them.  Some we can help to achieve the best quality of life possible given the extent of their injuries.  Sadly, some we can never really help because this war has scarred them mentally and beyond our scope of helping them. 
The one resounding take away for me is that the Ukrainian people are extremely resilient and strong.  We cannot let what is happening in the Ukraine become second page news because this war is VERY much alive. Please continue to support Ukraine…I know I will by returning again in the future.  Slava Ukraini!
A second team recently returned home from a new site in northern Ukraine, to perform reconstructive surgery on Ukrainian soldiers. Thankfully all volunteers returned home safely.

Our Board Member Susan Ketigian details her trip below:

“The OR days blend together… soldier after soldier, one disfigured face after another, hour after hour working hard to keep things running smoothly, making sure the nurses get a break, sterilizing instruments, so much going on. We are at a military hospital in Lviv and the patients are on the OR table before 7:30 am. Many of the cases are extremely complex, 12+ hours of surgery is required. Rebuilding faces takes time.
Aside from the physical injuries of the young soldiers, I can’t imagine the psychological effect. In addition to the facial wounds, all the soldiers have scars all over their bodies, and amputated legs and fingers. Looking out the window at the hospital I see a courtyard with several wheelchairs with young men sitting outside missing limbs. It’s just so sad.
One morning I received a message at 4am to go to the hotel’s bomb shelter. Once I saw the message and went downstairs there were about 8 of us down there. I stayed about 15 minutes, then went up to the hotel lobby and saw buses and trolleys running, people walking outside so we gathered our things and went off to work. 
We have a staff of eight of us in the operating room along with two local surgeons working side by side with our team to learn these surgeries. In medicine there is a phrase “See one, do one, teach one”. I have the honor to be the head nurse of the OR. This is the most responsibility I think I’ve ever had in my career. My team is excellent! Three of them are originally from Ukraine, and they are immensely helpful with translations. Everyone is here for the right reason. The local staff has been so helpful and kind and appreciates our team’s effort to help their soldiers. 
On the final day after rounds we met in a large conference room with the military leaders. Several speeches were translated to us. The commander had on a white sweatshirt and explained to us he wore white to represent light - our team was the light through the darkest of times. We were each presented with a framed certificate. The Ukrainian people are so strong. I hope the war ends soon for them. 
Za Peremogu!……. For the Victory!”

Future medical trips are already in the planning stages
for sending surgical teams to Tanzania and Colombia,
as well as a dental team to the Peruvian Amazon later this year.
International Inbound Program
The International Inbound Program is providing ongoing support to Nagalem, a young girl from Ethiopia who we provided with facial reconstructive surgery. 
Domestic Kids Program
The Domestic Kids Program will be awarding its annual medical careers scholarships to New Milford High School graduates in the coming weeks as the school year comes to an end.

This year’s scholarship recipients are: Noura Tazi who will be attending UCONN majoring in Speech and Hearing Sciences to become a Speech Pathologist, Olivia Ann Zeitler who will be attending DeSales University for the Accelerated Direct-Entry 3+2 Physician Assistant Program, and Sania Toprani who will be attending Northeastern University for Behavioral Neuroscience on a pre-med track.

Congratulations to these local graduates!
We wish them the best of luck as they pursue careers in the medical field!
We cannot thank our volunteer team members enough for their
generosity and bravery, and for donating their time and talents to travel around the world to help children in need.

As one of our team members recently reflected on their trip they said,
“Our team works so hard to better the lives of our little patients.”
Another team member said “There is nothing more rewarding
then seeing tears of joy when a mother sees her baby for the first time following surgery. I am very proud to be part of the Healing the Children team.

Our surgeons are first class and do their very best on every patient.” 
Help us continue our work and support our medical volunteers by donating today at https://htcne.org/about-us/donate/
Thank you for your unwavering support!
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Check out our website at www.HTCNE.org to see what’s new and exciting!