A Mission to Mexico
KSUCPM’s newest Assistant Professor is taking the world by storm. Fresh off the plane from San Migel de Allende, Mexico, Dr. Jacqueline Donovan sat down to tell us about her first ever mission trip treating the underserved in a foreign country.
Q: Give us the details about this incredible opportunity! When, where and what were you treating?
A: We were in San Miguel de Allende, in Central Mexico for 6 days, from August 26 - August 31. We treated at a small clinic for two days, and then performed operations at a private hospital for two days followed by a morning of post op appointments.
We treated anything and everything from skin and nail issues, to complex foot and ankle deformities. In most of Mexico, they do not have access to the same type/quality of podiatric surgery and medicine that we do in the U.S. We see a great deal of ingrown toenails which have been untreated for months to years. They do not allow phenol to be used by their podiatrists (which are essentially chiropodists) therefore ingrown nails are a big issue with these people. Additionally, they do not have the same perinatal screening and treatments as we do, therefore there are a number of children and young adults, or even adults, with neglected congenital disorders such as clubfeet and vertical talus.
We also treated a large number of painful bunions. Many of these patient's walk for tens of miles each day to and from work as well as for their jobs so foot pain affects them in a huge way. People also come just to obtain orthotics or "plantillas." Powersteps don't really exist in the same capacity as they do here. An orthotic company called Forward Motion donates hundreds of pairs of orthotics every year. This small adjustment along with shoe education, makes a huge difference in our patient's quality of life.
Q: It sounds like a life changing experience for them and for you. How did you get involved in a mission trip?
A: My partner, Dr Michelle Hurless, invited me to take part in this trip. She did her residency at the Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville, Texas where she was able to take part in this mission on three separate occasions. This mission has become a passion of hers and she continues to raise awareness and aid for it. The Texas Podiatric Medical Foundation began, sponsors and organizes this mission each year and invites select attendings and residents from the state of Texas to embark on this mission.
We were honored to be included in this group of outstanding attendings, as Dr. Hurless maintains a close relationship with them and believes in the importance of their purpose. They started this mission in the early 2000's by literally carrying supplies in their backpacks over the border. It has evolved into a well organized mission where hundreds of underserved patients travel from afar to receive care. Dr. Donald and his wife Nelda Falknor are the head of this mission and work tirelessly each year to obtain donations, organize and coordinate a successful trip.
Q: What were your goals heading into this trip, being your first one?
A: To treat as many patients as possible and provide relief for large and small issues in the time we are there. This year, we treated over 600 patients in two days in the clinic and performed 20 surgeries. Bigger surgical cases included : neglected vertical talus, subtalar joint dislocation, and untreated tarsal coalition. In each of these cases, if our mission were non existent, these patients would have a lifetime of pain and disability.
Q: Tell us what you’re bringing back from your new experience!
A: A big lesson for our students - learning to treat every patient with respect and realizing even something as simple as an ingrown toenail can greatly affect a patient's quality of life.
This mission is life changing. The people of Mexico are often brought to tears with a thankful heart for the care they recieve. Without the Texas Podiatric Medical Foundation, these people would not know what it is like to walk without pain or to ambulate normally. We feel it is our duty to give back to those who need it, and this is a wonderful way we can get involved.
Jacqueline Donovan, DPM, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Foot & Ankle Surgery and Biomehcanics at KSUCPM, and is double board certified in foot and reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery. Dr. Donovan is on staff at University Hospital’s Ahuja, Bedford and Richmond Campuses as well as Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital. During her three-year residency program at Grant Medical Center / OhioHealth in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Donovan served as co-chief, followed by an Orthopedic Trauma Fellowship. She practiced in Columbus and was active in the residency program for four years before returning to her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Dr. Donovan has extensive training in all areas of foot and ankle surgery including trauma, limb salvage, sports medicine, diabetic foot care, and the treatment of flatfoot, bunions and other common foot and ankle pathologies.