Surgical Center Highlights 40 Years of Mission Work

From Kansas City Medicine, Third Quarter 2020
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Thousands of adults and children in Haiti are living healthier lives today thanks to the work of Edward (Ted) Higgins, MD, a vascular surgeon and KCMS member. He has served on medical missions to that impoverished nation since 1982; these efforts inspired him to build and direct a major surgical center there in 2016. This work has earned Dr. Higgins’ selection to receive the KCMS 2020 Community Service Award.

The Higgins Brothers Surgicenter for Hope, located in southeastern Haiti, provides elective general and vascular surgeries along with gynecological and obstetric procedures. There also is 24-hour emergency treatment available. The center is a teaching and training hub for future Haitian surgeons, educating surgical residents from nearby Port-au-Prince General Hospital. It is named for his father and uncle, both surgeons and role models, who practiced together in his native upstate New York.

Patients are referred to the Surgicenter from all over Haiti. Few can afford to pay anything; fees are charged on a “pay-whatyou- can” basis, and no one who needs surgery is turned away.

In 2019, the Higgins Brothers Surgicenter performed 674 operations and 46 Caesarean sections, along with completing 542 deliveries. The Surgicenter has a team of 24 Haitian providers including surgeons, anesthesiologists, emergency physicians, a urologist, a dentist and nurses who staff the center the year round.

Along with the Haitian staff, Dr. Higgins has led four annual missions to the Surgicenter, bringing to Haiti some 25 Kansas City surgeons, physicians and others. However, the missions were suspended in 2019 after the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory due to civil unrest in the country. COVID-19 has only made the situation more complicated. Fortunately, the Haitian team has sustained the center. Dr. Higgins still has made solo visits.

The Surgicenter’s scope of responsibility has grown this year. It took over management of the adjoining Christ for All Hospital, which lost its mission teams in 2019 because of the civil unrest.

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