Missions, Campaigns, Programs—What are we talking about?

Solidarity Bridge Lingo Explained

Written by Jodi Grahl

Every institution tends to develop its own internal language and Solidarity Bridge is no exception. But when we use internal lingo to communicate with our broader community, the meaning may not always be clear. To keep both new and longtime members of our bridge-building network on the same page, here’s a brief glossary.

Partner: The term “partner” most often refers to one of the many individuals or institutions in Bolivia who facilitate and carry out medical work on-the-ground in Bolivia. Our key partner organization or partner office is Puente de Solidaridad (Spanish for Solidarity Bridge), our counterpart in Bolivia. Puente de Solidaridad has offices in the cities of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz staffed with administrative leaders, social workers, medical supply coordinators, and others. Together, we harness the energy, skills and compassion of highly specialized medical practitioners in the United States who join Bolivian specialists in valued relationships of professional service and training. Partner hospitals are the Bolivian hospitals with which we have formal agreements to host our medical missions and campaigns or to collaborate in providing year-round surgeries. Finally, partner physicians are the Bolivian surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other doctors who receive training and equipment from Solidarity Bridge and provide surgeries for patients throughout the year, while also passing along acquired skills and knowledge to their Bolivian students and peers.

Program:  When we refer to our programs, we mean one of the four medical fields in which surgeries are available through Solidarity Bridge and our partner organization, Puente de Solidaridad, on a permanent basis in Bolivia. We have four year-round programs: the General Surgery, Gynecologic Surgery, Heart Surgery, and Neurosurgery Programs. Bolivian patients in need of surgical care in these four specialties may visit our Bolivian partner offices at any time. Many patients are referred by a partner physician or partner hospital, while others learn about us through our community outreach or by word of mouth. Each patient is evaluated for financial eligibility to ensure that resources are channeled to those most in need. Patients approved for support are then scheduled for surgery.

Medical Mission Volunteers

Mission or Mission Trip: Six or seven times a year, specialized teams of US medical volunteers, also known as missioners, travel to Bolivia for five- to ten-day medical mission trips. The trips are the backbone of our training and equipping work. Our missioner physicians—senior-level specialists in their fields—work alongside Bolivian partners with two medical goals: (1) to advance our partners’ training in specific skills and (2) to better understand and progressively help fill the Bolivians’ equipment and supply needs. Mission trips are generally associated with one of our four surgical programs, with the exception of the annual Multi-Specialty Mission Trip (MSMT) which provides clinical services in a variety of specialties in addition to surgeries. While our mission teams seek to equip medical communities and deliver complex medical treatment to those in need, these deeply significant efforts are just one part of our mission. At a deeper level, our mission teams and Bolivian colleagues strive to live the conviction that, as one human family, we are one - somos uno.

Campaign: Just as US medical teams participate in mission trips to Bolivia, our Bolivian partner physicians carry out periodic campaigns in which they "set-up shop" in under-equipped hospitals to provide surgeries for patients unable to travel to larger hospitals. These teams of Bolivian professionals also train their peers during these intense three- to seven-day surgical campaigns. Since 2014, a mobile laparoscopic unit has allowed our Bolivian partners to offer general laparoscopic surgeries even in remote towns. In 2017, campaigns expanded to include heart surgeries.

 Are there other terms in our communications that you would like us to explain?
Please let us know in the comments!

Jodi Grahl is currently the Director of General Surgery, Gynecologic Surgery and Pacemaker Programs. She has been on staff at Solidarity Bridge for more than five years and has traveled with more than 16 mission teams.