New Faces for Honduras

New  Faces for Honduras is a surgical mission trip to San Pedro Sula and has been ongoing for the last 11 years. This group was originally founded by Dr. Frank DiPlacido (deceased) and Dr. Rod Lewin.

Dr. Patrick Abbey (private practice in Tampa, FL) and Dr. TJ Tejera (private practice in Ft. Myers, FL) have since led the surgical team.  The goal of the trip is to define and promote the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS), and to grow the specialty to at least 10 oral and maxillofacial surgeons  in Honduras.  It starts with students observing in the operating room, and continuing with training abroad, then, returning to Honduras.  This educational experience is for U.S. OMFS residents, to provide care and treatment of patients with problems that previously were not able to be treated in the country of Honduras.

As an oral maxillofacial surgeon, personally, I had been seeking an avenue to be able to “give something back” that was above the local aspect of ER (Emergency Room) call and charity clinic work. I had gone on this trip to Honduras while I was a surgical resident at Tufts Medical Center and have wanted to go back as an attending surgeon, ever since.

I got my opportunity, this past week, and just returned from our January trip, and I will be going every year, in the future, until we reach our goal of having professionally trained Honduran oral and maxillofacial surgeons to take over our roles there.

We close our practice, here, at North Boston Oral and Facial Surgery, Amesbury, and, travel every January for one week to do maxillofacial surgical procedures at the Ruth Paz Pediatric Surgery and Burn Hospital in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  Dr. TJ Tejera leads a similar team every June. We have the local oral surgeons, which grew from 2 to 4 over the past 10 years, operate with us to help expand their scope of practice. Dental students, from their local dental school, observe as well, and we have fostered an interest in Oral and Maxillofacial surgery that has led to three of them doing residencies in South America. Through them, we have been able to maintain a strong clinical follow up with most of the patients that we operate on. We perform OR cases that include simple pathology, mandibular resections, bone graft reconstruction, post traumatic reconstruction and even (with the help of donated prosthetics) total TMJ reconstruction. Our preoperative clinic will often see 70-80 patients, in a typical week, lined up for exams and evaluation, and will have three operating rooms running. The residents that assist are from three local programs, Tufts Medical, Christiana Care and Nova Southeastern, and are involved and exposed to a broad range of surgical procedures.  It is a demanding schedule, which typically, the residents love the experience of having.

Along with the residents, we have a full anesthesia team devoted to going to Honduras every year, which is led by Dr. Yin Lim (Christiana). The group, New Faces for Honduras, has continually pushed Frank and Rod’s original agenda of, not just, providing the surgical services for the week, that we are providing there, but, also, of leaving a legacy of change in the training of the local surgeons and the promotion of our specialty, OMFS.

Frank’s widow, Noreen, and Rod continue to attend and run the trip each year as administrators.

Submitted by,
Dr. James Kraus

North Boston Oral and Facial Surgery