Friday, April 10, 2015

Orthoped Surgeon Lends Helping Hands In Haiti

Orthopedic surgeon lends helping hands in Haiti
One of the greatest challenges with health care in Haiti is that people don’t have the resources to pay for even the most basic of medical needs. Even when an individual has access, however, finding a specialist in Haiti who has the right medical tools and supplies to perform a procedure can be near impossible.

That’s where Hope for Haiti comes in.

For the past 25 years, the Naplesbased charitable organization has been committed to improving the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children, through education, nutrition and health care. By building long-term partnerships, Hope for Haiti connects, heals and empowers communities on the path toward sustainability.

Orthopedic surgeon Philip Regala first traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake as part of a Rotary Club of Naples effort to deliver aid to victims. Along with other volunteer medical professionals, Dr. Regala was taken to a small hospital in the city of Pignon to perform surgeries and administer other treatments. The hospital ran on a generator during the day, and the power was shut off at night. “That was eye opening,” he recalls.

Dr. Philip Regala, center, in Haiti with orthopedic residents Dr. Fachy-Drice David, left, and Dr. Ernst-Max Julmiste in November 2014. 
COURTESY PHOTO Dr. Philip Regala, center, in Haiti with orthopedic residents Dr. Fachy-Drice David, left, and Dr. Ernst-Max Julmiste in November 2014. COURTESY PHOTO Since then, Dr. Regala has returned to Haiti several times and has helped establish a permanent rotation in which American surgeons are volunteering their time and expertise to train Haitian orthopedic residents so they can better care for their countrymen.

On his fourth trip last November, Dr. Regala was accompanied by six volunteers from Naples, an orthopedic surgeon from Seattle and two anesthesiologists from South Bend, Ind. One of their patients was a Hope for Haiti staff member who had suffered a broken arm in a car accident four months previously. Even though the man had had surgery soon after the accident, the bone was not healing properly because his doctors had not had the proper tools to set it.

Dr. Regala’s team was able to rework the previous procedure and insert two metal plates to straighten out the arm. “He should heal with near normal function,” he says about the patient.
In all, the team operated on 15 patients and treated another 15-20 people during their stay in November.

Dr. Regala grew up in the “one-stoplight town” of Hartford, Wis., where his physician father was often paid for his services in corn or brandy. From him, the Naples doctor learned the importance of caring for everyone, irrespective of their situation or station in life.

Philip attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin and then went on to the Medical College of Wisconsin. He moved to Florida to do his orthopedic residency at the University of Miami, planning all along to go back to his home state to practice medicine. A few winters of living in South Florida, however, changed that perspective. His family has called Naples home since 1997. ¦
Talking points with Dr. Philip Regala

Something your mother was always right about: She makes me and my siblings get together with our families once a year. That’s the best thing possible – for the cousins to all get to know each other.
Mentor: Jim Huddleston, whose practice I took over.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut or a doctor.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this: I’d be an artist (if I had enough money).
Otherwise, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

First job: Delivering the Milwaukee Journal on my bicycle. I had to earn enough to pay for half of my first Schwinn 10-speed bicycle.

One thing on your bucket list: Dive with the whale sharks.

Guilty pleasure: Publix fried chicken.

Most recent or next vacation destination: I’m always trying to get back to the Rockies to go skiing.

Skill or talent you wish you had: I wish I could play piano by ear.

What makes you laugh? My kids can always make me laugh.

Advice for your grandkids: I don’t have grandkids, but I would advise them to take chances, and not live a life of regret.

Last book you read: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. I saw the movie and then had to read the book. I wasn’t disappointed.

Something you’ll never understand: That’s a tough one. The more you know, the more you realize that you don’t know.

— Bob Harden is the producer and host of “The Bob Harden Show,” airing from 7- 8 a. m. weekdays at

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