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SCC Student Assists With Eye Surgeries During Mission Trip to Guatamala

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SCC Surgical Technology student Hayley Sanders assists Dr. David Jones with cataract surgery during a mission trip to Guatemala in April.
Hayley Sanders of Owensboro was finishing course work in the Surgical Technology program at Somerset Community College (SCC) this spring when an opportunity of a lifetime presented itself.

During her clinical rotation, she was invited to participate in a medical mission trip through an organization called His Servants Ministries. She and a team of eye surgery professionals traveled to Chiquimula, Guatemala from April 14 to April 18, 2014. Local Somerset surgeon Mark Henry, MD led the team, and Sanders joined SCC clinical instructor Becky Jones along with other nurses, volunteers and US surgeons, including: Dr. Dan Robinson of Indianapolis, IN; Dr. David Jones of Owensboro, KY; and Guatemalan surgeon, Dr. Luis Molina of Chiquimula.

"It was an experience unlike anything Ive done before," said Sanders. "I would highly recommend it to anyone! I had the opportunity so few people get.to experience things from another country. It will make you really appreciate everything you take for granted here in the United States. The simple luxury that anytime we get sick we can go to the doctor for treatment is an option they dont have. They are extremely poor and do not have the means to get to a clinic nor the funds to pay for the services."

A total of 124 surgical procedures were performed in just five days. Sanders assisted with procedures as well as learned some Spanish from members of the team to communicate with patients. Many of the patients were profoundly visually impaired. Most of the patients had cataract surgery. Nine of those were children who all had congenital cataracts.

"Being a student, I was a little anxious about the duties I would be performing in Guatemala," stated Sanders, "but my instructor, Becky Jones, took the time to work with me prior to our departure. My other instructor, Tammy Watters, was generous enough to allow me to do a make-up test upon my return and was supportive of my decision for this trip."

I cant think of a better way to have our program and college represented on an international level than this successful mission trip, said Tammy Watters, SCC's Surgical Technology program coordinator.

Sanders graduated from the program in May and passed her certification exam in June. She now works at St Joes in Lexington, KY as a Certified Surgical Technologist.