December 2000 Bulletin

Volunteer brings skills, fluoroscope to St. Lucia hospital

By Sandra Lee Breisch

Aware of the desperate need for orthopaedic care at St. Jude Hospital in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia, James J. Puhl, MD, an Orthopaedics Overseas volunteer, packed his bags for a month’s duty last March.

Joseph M. Vance, MD, a seven-year Orthopaedics Overseas veteran in St. Lucia, joined him. Dr. Puhl’s dermatologist wife, Susan, also volunteered her medical services to assist 14 full-time physicians and 200 local staff who work in the 110-bed hospital.

Although Dr. Puhl says he found the experience in St. Lucia "satisfying" and "rewarding," he knew the hospital was in dire need of much equipment–in particular, a c-arm fluoroscope.

"A c-arm fluoroscopy was essential for growth and improvement of the quality of the orthopaedic work at St. Jude," he noted. "We’re expected to take care of gross automobile accident victims with high tech injuries and without a c-arm it is very difficult."

So when Dr. Puhl arrived at his hometown in Iowa City, Iowa, he contacted the Iowa Orthopaedic Society (IOS) to try to achieve funding for the humanitarian endeavor and he spread the word around the AAOS about the need for a c-arm fluoroscope.

He got lucky on both accounts.

"The IOS was receptive in making a $5,000 donation as a starter to this fund," he explains. "Another nice thing was that in the process of making this $5,000 donation, they elected to make this a yearly humanitarian award in the amount of $5,000. However, the money could be used by any of the members to apply to one of their own projects."

The Orthopaedic Learning Center in Rosemont, Ill. happened to have a mini c-arm fluoroscopy system that was originally donated by Fluoroscan Imaging Systems, Inc. in Northbrook, Ill. It is now bequeathed to St. Jude.

Dr. Puhl’s successful efforts mean a lot to him. He underwent brain surgery last July. Now in a recovery mode, he has resumed hunting and fishing trips.

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