LIGA trip Nov 2013
This November Dr. Burgess and his Physician Assistant Lisa Babel returned to the state of Sinaloa Mexico to continue their work with LIGA International. They, along with 107 volunteers from around the United States, were able to touch the lives of hundreds of patients in the cities of El Fuerte and San Blas. Traveling with them and helping to provide much needed equipment to treat the patients was a local orthopedic representative, Jarred Martincic. This November clinic was a busy one, treating 640 patients including adults and children. Several specialty areas were represented including podiatry, neurology, ophthalmology, ENT, dentistry and orthopedic hand surgery.
Traveling back to El Fuerte was something Dr. Burgess and Lisa had been looking forward to since their last visit back in April. They were able to connect with some of the patients they had surgically treated and follow-up on their progress. Going back also meant familiarity; having their prior experience allowed them to dive back in and get right to work. “Knowing what you have, but also knowing what you need makes a big difference in how affective you can be in the time you are there. I was able to prioritize patients and provide surgery to all we could, but also plan for future trips where I hope to secure much needed orthopedic implants,” said Dr. Burgess.
“Without question, the hardest part of the trip is the look of disappointment in the eyes of a patient when I have to tell them there is nothing I can do, or at least until I get the proper equipment. These people come to you with hope. Many of them are suffering from chronic conditions from injuries sustained years ago. That painful look of disappointment is contrary to the look of joy and appreciation when they feel their hope turn to reality. It’s contagious and it keeps me going back. Even my wife is planning to help on the next trip. There is no question, it can be an emotional experience with many ups and downs,” reflected Dr. Burgess.
Unique to this trip was a news team capturing the story of LIGA. Rolando Nichols, lead news anchor and reporter for MundoFox, the Spanish-language broadcast network and sister station to Fox News, along with his cameraman and pilot traveled from California down to El Fuerte. They highlighted both El Fuerte and San Blas clinics, and hope to help spread the news about what the volunteers are accomplishing, along with the tremendous need for more help and equipment that still exists. Dr. Burgess notes, “One of the more frustrating roadblocks to our success can be the very Government of the people we are trying to serve. We have philanthropic companies and organizations here in the States willing to donate equipment but when it gets confiscated at the border or fined so heavily you have no choice but to turn back, it’s deflating.” Dr. Burgess is hopeful the awareness MundoFox brings, may help pry some of these “closed political doors” open and allow LIGA to fulfill its mission.
Dr. Burgess says he is commonly asked how safe it is in this region of Mexico. “I can say so far, I have felt completely safe. You can’t be naïve and you have to take precautions. The people of Mexico have opened their hearts with thanks and many local women will cook for hours on end to keep us fed while we work. Admittedly, it was strange to see DEA agents in small squads loaded into the back of pick-up trucks carrying automatic weapons, all dressed in black and wearing ski masks to protect their identity from drug cartel soldiers. It was another sobering reminder how lucky we are to live in the United States of America.”