In 2014, our General Surgery Program greatly expanded its reach through the launch of a mobile laparoscopic unit. The mobile unit, consisting of a vehicle outfitted with a collapsible laparoscopic tower and portable anesthesia machine, will travel with a Bolivian partner surgeon and anesthesiologist to smaller hospitals in and around Cochabamba to perform laparoscopic surgeries, primarily hernias and gall bladders. These hospitals serve the lowest-income, most often indigenous, patients. The mobile unit allows Solidarity Bridge to better reach this demographic of patients who live in the poorest towns and suburban settlements. For financial and cultural reasons, these patients are unable or extremely reluctant to go to the large urban hospitals, the only places where such surgeries are otherwise available. Now, we are taking state-of-the-art care to them!
Training and equipping Bolivian partners to perform laparoscopic surgery has been a strong focus of the General Surgery Program since 2010. Laparoscopic surgery, when appropriate, can offer many advantages over open techniques. In addition to better results in general, benefits for the patient may include shorter hospital stays and overall recovery times, and reduced scarring and risk of infection.