One experience for a certain volunteer, sparked the beginning of a new relationship between Operation Smile and Healthpoint.
After volunteering as an anesthesiologist at a mission in another hospital, Dr. Philipp knew he wanted to involve his own hospital- Healthpoint, a Mubadala Health Partner- with Operation Smile.
“After my approval and a successful mission at CCAD, I asked our medical management if they would be interested in providing the medical facilities for an Operation Smile mission.”
Volunteering had been a part of Dr. Philipp’s life for as long as he can remember, working as a paramedic on multiple occasions in Cologne, Germany. He also volunteered as a firefighter for 8 years in Germany.
“I experience the work as a volunteer as very satisfying. It reminds me that I chose this path of profession not for financial but humanitarian reasons. It gives me meaning to help others in need.”
Dr. Philipp’s enthusiasm and passion opened a gateway for a collaboration for Operation Smile with Healthpoint.
“After participating on an Operation Smile mission in another hospital, Phillip was inspired to advocate for other patients who required surgery and put forward a suggestion to the management of Healthpoint to partner with Operation Smile UAE.”, stated Morag, the Executive Director for Operation Smile UAE.
After gaining the initial approval, the two organizations set up for a small mission in December 2020, where 5 patients received surgery. Dr. Philipp fondly remembers a patient from this first Healthpoint mission. “There was a little girl who was 15 months old. She needed an MRI to assess her nasal polyp’s origin. It derived from the nose and not the brain and she became a suitable candidate for our hospital. I grew fond of her and was very relieved when it was decided that she could be operated on in this mission at Healthpoint.”
The success of the December 2020 mission led towards a second mission in June 2021. This mission was on a larger scale and Operation Smile was able to provide 9 surgeries. Following all the COVID-19 health and safety protocols, we were able to conduct this mission seamlessly with the support we received from Healthpoint.
Our medical and student volunteers left the busy 3 days with their hearts full. Looking back on his three medical missions, “According to my experience, the most memorable moments of the missions are when the parents see their children after the surgeries. The immediate results after a cleft lip surgery are amazing and it’s a very emotional moment for the staff and parents,” says Dr. Philipp.
This medical mission also conducted a six month follow-up with some patients who had received surgery in December 2020. “ Three of the babies returned and looked amazingly happy and healthy. The babies were walking and one little girl looked so different having had the large polyp removed and her cleft lip repaired. All of the parents were overjoyed,” recalls Morag with a big smile on her face.
The collaboration welcomed and complemented each organization’s goals and visions, with Operation Smile aiming to provide everyone with safe surgery through Healthpoint’s quality care and state of the art facilities.
Whilst working together Dr. Philipp observed both teams working together and supporting each other through each day of the mission. “What I appreciate very much is the harmonic working atmosphere during Operation Smile missions. It is founded on mutual trust and respect between all participating volunteers and medical fields.”, said Dr. Philipp.
The overall excitement and devotion in being able to help a patient after the recent June 2021 mission was visible amongst both the Operation Smile and Healthpoint teams.
“The entire team was very enthusiastic about the mission and it dominated the conversation everywhere for days. In the Operating Theatre, the question I was asked the most by our staff was, ‘when are we going to do the next mission!’”, remembered Dr. Philipp.
The mutual interests and goals for both Healthpoint and Operation Smile in bringing top quality care to their patients presents hope for future collaborations during missions, inspiring more and more volunteers to join the cause along the way.