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Medical Mission to Guatemala

CSMC Physicians Prepare for Medical Mission to Solola, Guatemala

On April 14, a group of Cedars-Sinai physicians will join other medical center staff on a medical mission to Guatemala, where they will provide surgical and general care assistance to needy residents in the village of Solola.

Led by Cedars-Sinai surgeon Daniel Schibler, M.D., the physicians are part of an 80-member Los Angeles medical team traveling to Guatemala from April 14 - 23. HELPS International, a non-profit organization that provides free healthcare to the rural populations of Guatemala, is organizing the trip. Of the 80 team members involved, approximately 75 percent are Cedars-Sinai staff.

The Cedars-Sinai physicians will join other Los Angeles-area physicians on the trip. In addition to Schibler, the Cedars-Sinai medical staff includes Gary Bellack, M.D., Barry Brock, M.D., Alice Dick, M.D., Ray Duncan, M.D., Cheryl Dunnett, M.D., Joseph Eby, M.D., Christina Han, M.D., Adrianne Hervieux, M.D., Babak Larian, M.D., Shahrad Rahban, M.D., Alejandro Sloninsky, M.D., and Amy Strickland, M.D. Also traveling will be a dentist, Lawrence Libuser, D.D.S.

"This is my fourth trip to Guatemala - and my second as team leader - and I find it to be very rewarding," said Schibler. "I want to thank everyone involved in this mission for giving us their time and commitment. It is well worth it."

Many of the team leaders on the trip are also Cedars-Sinai staff. Among them are Olivia Marroquin, an OR/Anesthesia Tech III, who will lead the OR staff; James Laur, Esq., vice president of Legal Affairs, who will lead the support staff; Anne Rosenblatt, RN, nurse manager of 4 South, who will lead the recovery and pre-op team, and Sylvia Estrada, RNP, a research coordinator for the Women's Cancer Research Institute, who will lead the clinical staff.

Olivia Marroquin, who is a native of Guatemala, has been employed at Cedars-Sinai for 34 years and has participated as a member of the HELPS International Los Angeles medical team for the past six years.

"I look forward to going every year," Marroquin said. "When we arrive, there is a line of people waiting to see us that extends two to three blocks long. We usually perform between 100 to 110 surgeries each trip, and we work harder than we've ever worked before. But nobody complains because what we do is so important, and the experience can literally change your life."

In addition to general surgery, the medical team performs ENT, plastic surgery and OB/Gyn procedures. Surgeries are performed in a surgery and clinical center located on a former military base in Solola. Donated medical equipment and supplies, including pharmacy materials, are brought by the medical team from Los Angeles.

2006 photos courtesy of Gary Bellack, M.D.