Taken from: http://www.citizen-times.net/
Two employees of Thoms Rehabilitation Hospital are taking a vacation to do their jobs twice as hard – and they’re not getting paid for it.
Dino Cozzarelli, director of orthotics and prosthetics at Thoms, will arrive today in Quito, Ecuador, to spend three weeks fitting impoverished Ecuadoreans with artificial limbs that will change their lives. His colleague at Thoms, orthotist Kent Ballard, will join him later in January to spend 10 days helping in the effort.
The two men, who will leave wives and a total of nine children behind, will use their personal resources and vacation time to make the journey. They plan to make the trip an annual event that will draw more medical professionals each year.
“I don’t consider this a sacrifice – I love what I do,” said Cozzarelli, who was born in Ecuador and still has many family members in the country. “I know how much poverty they have there, and there is a huge need (for prosthetic limbs).
Cozzarelli, a certified prosthetist and orthotist and Ballard, a certified orthotist, are members of a specialized field of medicine rarely available in third-world countries. The orthotist designs and fits devices known as orthoses for patients who have disabling conditions of the limbs and spine. The prosthetist designs and fits devices called prostheses for patients who have partial or total absence of a limb.
Ballard said the entire staff of their office is supporting the humanitarian mission.
“It’s not just Dino and I; the whole office has agreed to kind of take up the slack while we’re gone, and patients are willing to be patient and wait for us,” Ballard said.
Patients also heard the call for donations of used prosthetic parts, and have quietly been bringing in their offerings.
“We just put up a little flier, and people just heard about it, and they’ve come in toting all kinds of old stuff,” Ballard said.
This will be Cozzarelli’s first humanitarian trip to Ecuador, where inflation is out of control and thousands have lost their jobs in a chaotic economy.
“My plan is to work with about 20 people on this first trip, generally younger people who might be able to get back to work and care for themselves, while right now they’re hopping around or on crutches and can’t do a job,” Cozzarelli said.
“We want (patients) where this will make a direct change in their life beyond walking. It’s not going to be an 80- year-old diabetic man who just wants to walk; it will be younger people who can now maintain a job and take care of their families.”
Contact Blake at 232-6020 or BBlake@CITIZEN-TIMES.com.