Resident travels to Jamaica on mission trip

Olesia Merinova, MD

Third-year resident Olesia Merinova, M.D., recently returned from a mission trip to Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston, Jamaica. The trip, organized by Cardiac Kids Foundation of Florida (CKFF), took place under the supervision of David Vener, M.D., professor of anesthesiology at Baylor College of Medicine and James Spaeth, M.D., from Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. Teams from CKFF have performed more than 160 surgeries at Bustamante Hospital for Children—the only specialist pediatric hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean—since beginning mission trips there in 2004.

“I was thrilled to join the team when the opportunity came up,” said Merinova. “I was the only member in the anesthesiology group from the University of Florida, but the surgical team and several congenital heart ICU physicians and nurses were also from UF.”

The mission team had 45 members, including physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, perfusionists, and support personnel from several institutions across the country.

The goal of CKFF’s Jamaica mission trips is to provide high-quality medical care to children with congenital heart disease, encompassing necessary surgical interventions, perioperative care through recovery, and financial assistance to families without the resources to reach the hospital.

Olesia Merinova Jamaica  Mission

After the first day, which was set aside for pre-surgical planning, the mission team spent five full days in surgery. Running two simultaneous rooms, they successfully performed nine cardiac surgeries.

Merinova expressed her appreciation for the experience and exposure to new skills and ideas.

“The entire anesthesia team was very supportive and shared a lot of experience,” she said. “I was able to learn how things are done in two of the leading institutions for pediatric congenital heart disease in the country.”

Merinova also expressed her appreciation for the Department of Anesthesiology’s support in attaining approval to make this trip part of her training. She wished to thank the foundation, her fellow team members, and the department for making it possible.

“The mission trip was a truly life-changing experience for me and for nine children in Jamaica,” she said. “This experience helped me value the resources we have available for our patients in our daily practice, and helped remind me why I came to medicine in the first place.”

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