South Shore Health Brings Surgical Expertise to the People of Peru

South Shore Health Brings Surgical Expertise to Peru

Earlier this month, seven clinical colleagues from South Shore Health brought their expertise to “The Sacred Valley” of Peru to perform surgery and other medical procedures for people who would not usually get the benefits of modern medicine. 

The trip was led by Mark Hershey, MD, Chair of Critical Care Medicine at South Shore Health. Dr. Hershey has run medical missions to a clinic in the shadows of Machu Picchu in Peru for the last six years. He was joined by surgeon Neil Ghushe, MD, nurses Lisa Nolan, RN, Ashley Nehiley, RN, Mary Jane Doherty, RN, Susan White, RN, and surgery technologist Michele Reagan. 

For one week, the team, which was joined by clinical colleagues from North Shore Medical Center and Newton-Wellesley Hospital, performed more than 70 surgeries for a group of people who sometimes travel hours just to seek care from medical professionals from the United States. 

“(Our team) got to see how other people live and they got to see the value of high quality healthcare here and how important it is to bring elsewhere,” Dr. Hershey said. “The ‘aha’ moment is from the moment they walk in until the moment we leave.”

South Shore Health colleagues experienced an intense week of surgeries and patient care that let the clinicians get “back to the basics of the job,” according to Dr. Ghushe. Dr. Ghushe said he is in surgery about two or three days a week at South Shore Hospital, but in Peru he had a major hand in nearly 60 surgeries in a one-week period. 

The team handled mostly gall bladder and hernia surgeries, as some patients traveled as much as seven hours to receive care. In Peru there is universal healthcare, but, according to Dr. Hershey, patients are only eligible for surgery if it is life-threatening or if they are on a list. That is why people travel for miles when a team from the States comes to their country. 

“We saw some tough cases,” said Dr. Ghushe. “It took some creativity. We had the benefit of having a great team.”

Maryjane Doherty, RN, said the team had plenty of supplies, but did not have the benefit of newer technologies. 

“We jury-rigged some equipment and it was lot of touch with the patients,” Doherty said. “You just kind of look around and it was like ‘wow’ these people need this level of care so much.”

After about six days of procedures, the team took in the sites of Machu Picchu and the surrounding villages. 

“At the beginning of the trip we were strangers and at the end of the trip we made friends for life,” said Michele Reagan, surgical technologist at South Shore Hospital. 

Dr. Hershey said he is in the works on planning the trip again next year. He said he can’t wait to get back to the clinic he has called home for a week every year since 2012 to see friends and get back to helping people who need it. 

“We just got back and I’m already ready to go again,” he said.

Watch the video below to hear more from our caregivers.