Six Women on a Mission
Written by Betsy Station
Today, six Solidarity Bridge missioners depart on a weeklong Gynecologic Surgery Mission Trip with an ambitious goal: to restore and improve the quality of life for women who lack access to vital treatment. Partnering with the Municipal Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, they will offer highly specialized surgeries and other care.
The team includes two Chicago-area gynecologists and veteran missioners: Dr. Janet Tomezsko, specialist in female pelvic and reconstructive surgery, and Dr. Carrie Giordano, expert in minimally invasive (laparoscopic) and other gynecologic surgery techniques. Nurses Donna Romano and Hilda Barba—both first-time missioners—will help keep the OR running smoothly and will work directly with patients and diverse Bolivian staff to expand women’s healthcare options. Two Solidarity Bridge staff members, Jodi Grahl and Lindsay Doucette, will serve as trip coordinator and chaplain, respectively.
In Tiquipaya, a small town outside Cochabamba, volunteer social workers began reaching out to potential patients weeks before the mission team’s scheduled arrival, going door to door to inform local women of the opportunity for treatment. Throughout Bolivia—but especially in traditional, rural areas—wives and mothers may put the health needs of other family members before their own. Consequently, many women suffer in silence with abnormal bleeding, tumors or fibroids, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and other health problems, often related to multiple childbirths.
Working alongside staff gynecologists from the hospital, the Solidarity Bridge team will perform a variety of gynecologic procedures. For the first time, our team will also offer physical therapy as a treatment option for women who don’t require surgery for urinary incontinence—an important contribution to improving their quality of life.
Watch here for updates on how this partnership is advancing women’s health in Tiquipaya. ¡Adelante mujeres!
Betsy Station serves as communications and development associate at Solidarity Bridge.
The Solidarity Bridge Gynecologic Surgery Program aims to help low-income Bolivian women receive needed interventions such as hysterectomies, endometrial ablation, and bladder repair. Through these surgeries, women who may live with discomfort or debility to the degree that it limits their daily activities can enjoy restored quality of life and productive capacities. This, in turn, maintains the welfare of their families and the larger community. The program works in partnership with Bolivian gynecologists, training them in novel techniques and outfitting them with the latest instruments and equipment donated by our corporate and individual supporters.