David Gesensway, MD

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Volunteer Service

International Orthopedic Scholar Program, October 2017

With the generous help of the Twin Cities Orthopedic Foundation (TCOF), Dr. Kurt Anderson and I hosted the 2017 International Orthopedic Scholar Program recipients in October.   Donald Adolfo García, MD and  Juan José Guadamuz, MD, both Chief Residents  in orthopedics at the Hospital Escuela  Oscar Danilo Rosales Arguello in Leon, Nicaragua, travelled to the Twin Cities for an eight day educational visit.  During the very busy week they observed in clinic and surgery, practiced surgical techniques in 2 cadaver labs (sponsored by Smith & Nephew), gave a presentation in English, and attended didactic conferences and hands-on labs at the 47th Annual Orthopedic and Trauma Seminar at the Minneapolis Convention Center.   The doctors stayed at our house, and experienced many firsts including feeling cold, brightly colored leaves, throwing a snowball, hot tubbing, indoor rollercoasters, 27th floor bar views, and jucy lucys.

The purpose of the program is to help advance orthopedic care in the guest nation by helping train and educate young orthopedic surgeons to become educators and leaders in their community.



Leon, Nicaragua, April 2017

Our fifth volunteer trip to the teaching hospital in Leon was quite successful.  Dr. Kurt Anderson taught knee arthroplasty and accomplished 11 total knee replacements with the help of John Muelken (ortho assistant), Eva Martinez (physical therapist), Gail Maenke (surg tech), and James Tousignant (Stryker rep).  Courtney Mason (hand therapist) and I treated many hand patients, including the carpal tunnel release on the department chair under local anesthesia.  Students Julia Gesensway and Daniel Kim helped with the daunting logistics of 800 pounds of donated medical equipment in 18 hand-carried bags.  Many lectures, lots of heat, a beautiful sunset evening on a dark volcanic sand beach, collegial dinners at the homes of our Nicaraguan colleagues.

Leon and Matagalapa, Nicaragua, April 2016

Lead a team of 9 from TCOF to Leon, Nicaragua to the HEODRA teaching hospital. Kurt Anderson, MD (orthopedic surgeon), Adam Bakker, MD (hand surgeon), Kris Anderson (hand therapist), Trish Kloeckl (hand therapist), Eva Martinez (physical therapist), John Muelken (orthopedic assistant), Kaitlyn Jensen (surg tech), Ben Gesensway (physical therapy student), and me. We hand-carried nearly 800 pounds of donated medical supplies, in 16 checked bags, that we collected over the year. Donated a new pair of operating surgical loupes to the department, and a laptop computer. I did 5 surgical cases, the team did 34 total, all with the local orthopedic residents. We gave 6 lectures. We did a site visit to the hospital in Matagalpa. Enjoyed a tour of Leon Viejo beneath the Momotombo volcano, and visited a roof tile and brick making business.

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Leon, Nicaragua, April 2015

In April, 2015 Dr Kurt Anderson and I led five other volunteers from TCOF, and 2 COAN volunteers from Virginia, on a service trip to Nicaragua. One of the oldest cities in the New World, founded not long after Christopher Columbus explored the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua in the early 1500’s, Leon is the home of one of the country’s two medical schools and two orthopedic surgery residency programs. It is the only public hospital in this beautiful colonial city of about a half million residents, most of whom are poor and utilize the free services provided at this government hospital. Our team hand-carried over 600 pounds of donated medical supplies to help serve the hospital’s many orthopedic needs. We gave lectures each morning for the 12 orthopedic residents and seven full-time orthopedic staff surgeons. I helped with 9 complex hand surgery cases, part of the 24 total surgical cases for the week.

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International Orthopedic Scholar Program, November 2015

Dr. Kurt Anderson and I established this program, sponsored by the Twin Cities Orthopedic Foundation, with the purpose to help advance the orthopedic care in the guest nation by helping train and educate young orthopedic surgeons to become educators and leaders in their community.

The 2015 TCOF International Scholar Program recipients were: Marlen Elizabet Taleno West, MD, a first year faculty member at the Hospital Escuela Oscar Danilo Rosales Arguello in Leon, Nicaragua, and Carlos Fernando Paiz Martinez, MD, the current Chief Resident in orthopedics at the same hospital. These surgeons traveled to Minneapolis October 30 – November 8, 2015 for an educational visit where they participated in clinics, observed surgery, practiced surgical techniques on simula
tors, gave presentations, and attended the 45th Annual Orthopedic and Trauma Seminar three day conference at the convention center. Dr. Taleno presented their hospital’s experience with the SIGN nail program. The visiting doctors stayed at our houses, and toured a bit of the Twin Cities.

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Leon, Nicaragua, January 2014

My wife Katie, a pediatrician with Central Pediatrics, and I joined with 17 other volunteers on a service trip to Leon, Nicaragua. Our 6 person team from Minnesota hand-carrried 500 pounds of donated medical supplies. I gave a few lectures to the orthopedic residents there, and assisted them with 6 complicated surgeries. An interesting case was fixing the duplicated thumb in a one year old baby. We also set up and taught a knee arthroscopy lab on a rubber knee model; none of the residents had ever had the chance to practice arthroscopy, something that is so commonplace now in the USA. We also hiked up, and sledded down a 2000’ recently active volcano, not a common activity in MN.

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Leon, Nicaragua, April 2013

I joined a team of two other orthopedic surgeons, a hand therapist, two PAs, an anesthesiologist, and a surgical tech for a week of volunteer teaching, surgery, and learning in Leon, Nicaragua. The program, Cooperativa Ortopedica Americano y Nicaraguense (COAN) was started in 2002 by orthopedic surgeons from North Carolina. We gave morning lectures, helped teach the 14 orthopedic residents in this poor, public, teaching hospital, assisted in surgery, and brought them 450 pounds of donated orthopedic supplies. The Orthopedic Department annual budget for equipment, supplies, and implants is zero. I had thirteen surgical cases this week. Hot, tiring, interesting, challenging, fun, and rewarding.

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Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2011

One year after the terrible earthquake , Kurt Anderson, MD and I brought a team of 5 to Port-au-Prince, Haiti for one week to assist with orthopedic care at one of the few working hospitals left in the city, HAH. We lived in the hospital, slept on cots under mosquito netting in the open air on the roof, awoke with the roosters, and cooked meals from a hot-pan. But the 2 ORs were functional, and we operated on people with residual problems from their earthquake injuries, as well as fresh trauma and infections, and some congenital hand problems. A huge number of people live there in crushing poverty and squalor, all made much worse by the quake.

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