Canvasback Missions Teams Provide Orthopedic and Dental Care to Ebeye Islanders

Two Canvasback Missions teams recently returned from the tiny, but crowded, island of Ebeye in the Marshall Islands of Micronesia. The orthopedic team performed 10 total knee replacements, 20 arthroscopic surgeries and various other orthopedic procedures while the dental team treated 417 dental patients.

Organized by Jacque Spence, co-founder of Canvasback Missions, the 23 team members hailed from Florida, Maryland, Oklahoma, Arizona, California, Idaho and Oregon.

Headed up by Robert Wells, M.D., of Portland, Ore., the orthopedic team performed total knee joint replacements and arthroscopy using donated equipment, which they left at the hospital in Ebeye.

Some of the patients had not been able to walk for more than 10 years. Wells also trained Ebeye's only orthopedic surgeon, Richard Trinidad, to use the equipment.

The dental team, led by Milford Anholm, D.D.S., of Loma Linda, Calif., helped to relieve a large backlog of patients needing dental services. School children crowded the halls every afternoon to be examined and treated.

"The amount of dental caries and bombed-out teeth was overwhelming," Anholm said. "It's painful to see children suffer with a mouthful of tooth decay." Working with Ebeye dental personnel, the team was able to treat more than 50 patients per day.

With more than 12,000 people living on a mere 80 acres, Ebeye is the most populous island of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands," said Spence. "Putting together this trip was one of the most challenging things we have done. It took a lot of help from many people and corporations to make this trip possible.

"Orthopedic surgery requires very strict sterile conditions, and Wells tried to emulate the conditions that he normally works in by bringing over all the same supplies—the same implants and drapes and screws—which he uses at Portland Adventist Hospital."

In the end, we filled a 20-foot container to the brim. Portland Adventist Hospital donated medical supplies and equipment. Medical and dental companies from all over the United States—such as Smith Nephew and Richards, Cardinal Health, Kerr Dental and Ultradent—helped to make this mission possible.

"This trip went extremely well, and we made a significant impact," Wells reflected. "Our Marshallese patients were so warm and trusting and the hospital staff went the extra mile to make this happen."

Trinidad expressed his gratitude, writing," I feel so blessed to see my patients receive the medical care they need after so many years of waiting. Thanks also for the many and countless donations. We are very much thankful for your kindness and continued support."

June 01, 2007 / Oregon Conference