Cinci Cares Presents: Doctors on a Mission | Scott True, M.D.
The Christ Hospital, Orthopaedic Surgeon
LEAD Magazine: What inspired you to do mission work?
Dr. Scott True: I always wanted to do mission work, but when you are starting a practice and have young kids, it’s hard to find the time. As life progressed, I had some medical issues that kept me from getting involved. I was given the OK to go and took my first trip to Nicaragua in January 2012 to scout things out, to see where I could be utilized. January 2013 was my first real working mission trip and in 2014 we started doing hip and knee replacements. In the beginning, I was doing one week per year but starting in 2015, I now do two weeks at a time. Monday through Thursday are surgery days. We see about 50 people each week. Friday is a day to rest, recuperate and reflect. We stay through the weekend then a new group comes in on Sunday.
The first year of a mission trip is always a discovery year. You have to go see what the need is and then you discover your place. There are about 50 people in a group from all around country. The group from here is around 40, medical and non-medical. There is a general surgeon, two neurologists and myself. The 10-15 from elsewhere are mostly non-surgical. The second week is when the Crossroads Church group will arrive. Most Crossroads people are medical – respiratory therapists, medical assistants and some primary care guys.
The orthopedists do a good job with the resources that they have. They are doing things we did probably 40-50 years ago. They are not doing joint replacements. The waiting list for any kind of procedure is years. No one there has insurance. The facility there is a charity hospital, providing free care. For orthopedic follow-up, nurses are on staff through Amigos for Christ, and local orthopedists follow up with them. Stryker donates all hip implants and power equipment. DePuy donates all knee implants. The cases we did last year would have equalled $700,000-$800,000 worth of equipment. These companies are donating equipment from approximately three generations ago.
LEAD Magazine: What have you learned by doing this work?
Dr. Scott True: I have learned that we are spoiled here in the United States. I have learned to improvise. There is more than one way to do something. I have also learned patience.
LEAD Magazine: What message would you like to share with our readers about this work?
Dr. Scott True: To not be scared to step out of your comfort zone, it is so worth it. It is good to be at a point in your career that you can afford to do this work. As long as we are able to do it, we want to do this. When you first get home from a trip you are tired, spent and not sure you can do it again. Within one month, you are ready to go back.
My son went with us last year. He was in a place where he was between things and had some free time. He is not in medicine. He wants to be a sports writer. It was good for him. I did not know at the time how it affected him but he later wrote a blog about it.