Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

USA Headquarters
September 15, 2021

ReSurge International is an international global health organization driven to address surgical inequities around the world. Our mission is to inspire, train, fund, and scale reconstructive surgical teams in lower-income countries to provide life-changing care to patients with the greatest need. Being intentional about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is at the core of the work that we do, both domestically and internationally – whether it’s supporting women surgeons or neglected patients in need. We believe diverse and inclusive organizations create diverse and inclusive communities both at home and abroad.

In 2020, the ReSurge International leadership team began a journey towards a deeper understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We partnered with an external consultant for support with DEI strategy and staff training, and also formed an internal DEI Committee.

This allowed us to redefine and expand our values. At ReSurge International:

  • We respect the diversity and dignity of all our patients, partners, staff, volunteers, and leaders no matter their race, identity, gender, religion, ability, culture, beliefs, education, citizenship or sexual orientation.
  • We value equity and justice for the most vulnerable and oppressed because everyone deserves access to life-changing care to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives.
  • We strive for inclusivity in our culture.We believe we do our best work when everyone feels welcomed, respected, and safe to bring their full selves to our community.

ReSurge International has continued to focus efforts to increase inclusiveness in all aspects of our organization. We want to educate our US-based and international staff members on DEI, attract and retain new leaders to our organization, and create a culture where everyone is welcomed and accepted. As an organization, we are taking multiple steps to advance DEI in our worldwide network. We are examining our policies around internal hiring, onboarding, and growth to ensure they are equitable and inclusive at all levels of the organization. We are working to create systems both in our internal policies and external practices that help us identify and confront both unintended and intended bias. We are continuing to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of our programmatic work, and will communicate our learnings with the global health sector. While we are proud of how far we have come, and what we have accomplished so far in this journey, we know that there isn’t a finish line to achieving DEI in an organization. There is always work to be done, and we are fully committed.

“At ReSurge, we know that a diverse team frequently leads to better quality decisions,” President and CEO Jeff Whisenant said. “And as an organization working to provide surgical care to underserved people, our mission includes equity and inclusion. Our DEI statement documents our commitment to these values.”

Download the full statement here.

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In Good Hands: The Story of Young Bibas

Nepal,
September 14, 2021

“Other than the face, our hands are the most communicative part of our body when connecting to the outside world. They serve both form and function.” —Dr. James Chang, past-President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and Consulting Medical Officer for ReSurge International

The use of our hands is something many of us take for granted. Bibas, a vibrant young man from Nepal, was only seven when he was gravely injured when a high-voltage electric wire was accidentally cut on a construction site. The live wire swung wildly, making contact with Bibas’ body and leaving him badly burned. His family rushed him to the local hospital, but the damage was done. His right arm had to be amputated, and he sustained severe burns across the rest of his body. Bibas developed a burn contracture on his left hand, rendering his only remaining arm unusable. He had to rely entirely on his mother for all day-to-day tasks, drastically impacting her ability to provide for her family.

For months, Bibas’ mother stayed home to tend to her son with no hope for the future. Each day, his burn scar contracture became worse as his hand grew but his skin remained taut. Then the family heard about ReSurge’s Surgical Outreach Partner, Dr. Kiran Nakarmi and his team in Kathmandu, Nepal. Dr. Nakarmi operated on Bibas, releasing his burn scar contracture. After surgery, Dr. Nakarmi referred Bibas to Mohan Dangol, a Burn and Hand Therapist. Mohan oversaw his recovery for weeks, employing a therapy technique using splinting and hand exercises. Bibas’ surgery and physical therapy were all offered at no cost to his family.

Seven years later, Bibas is fourteen and living a fully mobile life! He has learned to write with his left hand and rides to school every day on his bike. Supporters like YOU made this transformation possible!

Bibas shows off his new bike (and his ability to ride it) with his hand therapist, Mr. Dangol.

The Kirtipur Hospital where Bibas received his treatment, has consistently had a busy burn program. Seeing a great need for more advanced training, ReSurge collaborated with Kirtipur Hospital to start the first-hand fellowship training program in Nepal. The program is increasing surgical capacity so that more children like Bibas can receive life-changing care by trained medical professionals who specialize in hand reconstruction and microsurgery. Kirtipur Hospital can perform all aspects of hand surgery now, even reattaching fingers or the whole hand when needed. Restoring the function of just one hand has a dramatic impact on not only the individual but also on their family and the wider community.

In low-income countries, where billions of people still warm themselves and cook with open fires, someone suffers horrific burns every five seconds. Without your help, most victims would remain disfigured and disabled for the rest of their lives.

Please consider making an even greater impact by starting a sustaining gift today to help people like Bibas well into the future. By committing to a monthly donation, you can ensure that surgical capacity continues to grow in low-income countries. Your gift will have a direct impact on patients like Bibas who are in desperate need of a transformed life!

testing form here

How Can I Help Now?

Sign up for our newsletter and keep up to date on the latest happenings at Resurge International. Join our Community!
* indicates required

Latest Stories

Patient Stories

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How ReSurge is Shaping the Future: A Conversation With Dr. Gordon Lee

How ReSurge is Shaping the Future: A Conversation With Dr. Gordon Lee

USA Headquarters
August 19, 2021

At ReSurge International, our reconstructive surgical care and training transforms the lives of thousands of people each year. We are always adapting to deliver the greatest scalable and sustainable impact to those who need it most. One of the ways we do that is through our visiting educator and virtual training programs. We connect some of the world’s greatest minds and institutions with local surgeons in low-income countries to build capacity and strengthen local systems.

One such ‘great mind’, is Dr. Gordon Lee, an internationally recognized reconstructive surgeon from Stanford, specializing in microsurgery. Dr. Lee has been a ReSurge International volunteer and educator for over 15 years.

Dharshan Sivaraj, a ReSurge medical student volunteer, sat down with Dr. Gordon Lee to learn more about his transformative work with ReSurge, and how he believes ReSurge’s approach is shaping the future of global surgery. Check out their interview below!


How were you introduced to ReSurge International?

As a medical student at Stanford back in the 1990s I was very familiar with ReSurge International, or what was formerly named Interplast. I had always maintained an interest in one day doing international work and being able to travel and help people in other countries.

When I became faculty at Stanford, I connected with Dr. James Chang, the division chief of plastic surgery. Dr. Chang became the new chief medical consultant at ReSurge in 2014, and was starting to do some exciting and innovative things. He was moving ReSurge in a whole new direction. He started to get faculty at Stanford involved, and more importantly, he used his global network of connections to recruit surgeons – and that’s exactly how he got me involved.

Where was your first trip with Resurge?

The first trip I went on with ReSurge was to Zimbabwe. It was a wonderful experience and I will never forget it. It really exceeded all my expectations of what I thought international work was going to be, and it took me to a whole new level of appreciation of medicine and the reason why I wanted to become a doctor, which is to help people.

Do you have a memory of a patient from a ReSurge affiliated trip that has stuck with you?

Oh, too many to count I’m afraid. Most notably, in Cuba there was a young woman who was missing half of her jaw. She had had a tumor removed, and they were not able to reconstruct the resulting defect. She was young, I think she was 22, but half of her face was basically sunken into her chest, and she was also not able to eat very well. One can imagine what this does to a young person at that age. So, we did a complex reconstruction with a free fibula flap. The surgery went really well.

By the time we left to return to the States, she was still in the hospital, but because I was able to go back to Cuba again later, as part of continuity of care, I was able to see her again. When she came back to the hospital she was completely changed as a person. She had been so depressed and sad when I first met her but now, she was all healed. She was eating well and she also had a partner.

“While we don’t always do lifesaving surgery, often what we do is life-giving. For example, providing care for this young girl who had been living with a deformity and was ostracized from society. I think for her, the surgery we performed was life-giving. The quality of life that we can give to a patient is just as important as life-saving surgery. This is the power that ReSurge provides to the world.”

Hospital Calixto Garcia, Havana, Cuba

Have you been able to be involved with the educational component of ReSurge’s mission?

I think one of the transformational aspects of ReSurge is the commitment to teaching and educating. The focus of ReSurge has been teaching local surgeons. We teach them how to perform the surgeries, and maintain a continuity relationship where it’s not just a one-off thing, but we can go back sometimes multiple times a year to the same institution and continue to educate the local physicians who work there. So, when I went to Zimbabwe, as well as when I went to Cuba and Nepal, we absolutely incorporated education into the trips. I can’t emphasize enough that the goal of ReSurge is not just about doing surgeries. Part of it is doing surgeries, but a good portion of it is also educating physicians through lectures, through workshops, through any resource we have available to us – and that is what has been huge.

Can you expand on the importance of training and establishing local infrastructure?

It is vitally critical to establish a program of continual learning. ReSurge surgeons really partner with the local surgeons and teach them how to do these operations. These local surgeons are incredibly smart and motivated, and they want to learn new techniques to help their patients. That is the piece that is really transformational. It’s important  for physicians to have some type of curriculum, and I use that word very intentionally.  A curriculum must have goals, it must have objectives, and it must have an ability to measure your results so they can be to repeated and reproduced. You can’t teach reconstructive surgery techniques just in one day or even one week. It’s a continuous learning experience.

Because of COVID-19, we’ve had to seek out new ways to approach education. I think that’s where telehealth has been very important. In many ways, this is something that everyone should have incorporated a long time ago. Traditionally, we can go and visit these institutions once, twice, maybe three or even four times a year. But these are all very short bursts of education. The benefit of the new ReSurge virtual training is that we can have continual education, and the learning extends way beyond in-person education.

Hospital Calixto Garcia, Havana, Cuba

What are some of the types of operations that you have performed while teaching abroad?

My expertise is primarily in microsurgery. I would say in the most recent years, my educational focus has been centered on Cuba, which has a need for microsurgery. Since they do not do microsurgical tissue transfers, I went with a very large group of surgeons a few years ago and gave lectures over the course of several days to introduce the topic to the Cuban physicians. The Cuban healthcare professionals were very enthusiastic because they see a lot of very bad tumors that they have difficulty to treat since they don’t have the microsurgery training to reconstruct those types of defects. I have been out there several times and we usually do a combination of lectures, workshops, and surgery. I will typically have a curriculum set up for the week where, on a Monday for example, we will do lectures designed around the types of surgeries that are happening that week. In addition, we also do hands on labs and workshops. We then do surgeries on patients that correspond to the lectures. At the end of the week, we do a debriefing where we look at the patients and reflect on what went well and what didn’t go well, and what we can do to improve in the future. I may be biased, but I think it’s a very robust curriculum we have set up.

Are you optimistic about the potential for virtual training in conjunction with in-person trips?

Yes, I’m very optimistic. As we look towards the future, we’ll continue to have this type of hybrid education. Ultimately, I think the model that ReSurge has been adopting will shape the future and serve as a reference for other organizations. I also want to mention that we wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the support of ReSurge’s donors and those who believe in the mission of helping those less fortunate. I feel very lucky to be a part of ReSurge—I take nothing for granted. I think Dr. Chang and Jeff our CEO, have done a wonderful job along with everyone in the ReSurge family. They have been able to bring ReSurge to a whole new level.

 


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Lawrence Cai: Meet the Laub Fellow Quantifying our Impact

Lawrence Cai: Meet the Laub Fellow Quantifying our Impact

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The Donald R. Laub Fellowship program, named after our founder Don Laub, allows for a fourth-year resident in plastic and reconstructive surgery to work with ReSurge for a year to hone reconstructive surgical and research skills. We are proud to introduce our newly selected ReSurge International Laub Fellow, Lawrence Cai who is a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at Stanford University and will be leading some important work during his time at ReSurge.

At ReSurge we are focused on scaling our impact so that we can transform entire economies, medical systems, and lives in low-income countries around the world. To do this we are focusing on local capacity building efforts as we support, train, educate and partner with reconstructive surgical teams to tackle the gap in global surgery. This focus on training builds new pipelines of surgical care for those living in poverty—ultimately resulting in a multiplier effect of impact.

So how do we measure this multiplier effect? This is the very question that our new fellow Lawrence Cai is asking as he works to quantify the the long-term impact of our surgical training and education programs. We caught up with Lawrence as he embarks on this very important and exciting research to learn more.

Welcome Lawrence! We are thrilled to have you onboard. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hello! I was born in Hangzhou, China and raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Growing up in the home of the Manhattan Project and being surrounded by scientists helped foster a deep curiosity and a desire to explore the natural world. I studied chemistry at Yale, where my research focused on designing low-cost solar cells. Prior to medical school, I worked in Boston as a consultant at Simon-Kucher and Partners, where I developed pricing, contracting, and product launch strategies for pharmaceutical companies. I then went to Stanford for medical school and was fortunate enough to stay at Stanford for residency. I’m now a fourth-year plastic and reconstructive surgery resident and am thrilled to be the Laub fellow during my professional development year!  In my free time, I love experimenting with new cooking techniques, playing German-style board games, and folding complex origami models.

What made you want to go into reconstructive surgery?

I first learned about reconstructive surgery through the Design for Extreme Affordability program at the Stanford Design School. It was through that collaboration that I had the chance to work with Dr. Shankar Rai on improving burn care in Nepal, which ultimately culminated in establishing the country’s first skin bank. That work showed me the incredible ability of reconstructive surgery to improve patients’ quality of life, where relatively short and simple procedures could restore someone’s ability to walk again or to eat normally or to attend school. The specialty also offers an incredible opportunity to bring creativity into surgery, as every case needs to be adapted to a patient’s unique injury and anatomy.

Why were you interested in the ReSurge Laub Fellowship?

During medical school, I spent a full-time year working on collaborations between ReSurge and the Design for Extreme Affordability program. I traveled to several of ReSurge’s partner sites in South America and Southeast Asia and continued to learn about all the ways in reconstructive surgery could improve the lives of people around the world. The Laub Fellowship was established soon after that, and it seemed to be the perfect marriage of my interests in reconstructive surgery and global health. I could not have been more excited to learn that I had been selected as the Laub fellow!

What are you most interested in experiencing and working on during the course of the Fellowship? 

I’m excited to be working with ReSurge on measuring the impact of its surgical training programs around the world and quantifying the incredible multiplier effect of these programs. I’m also interested to learn how a non-profit group like ReSurge operates at an organizational level and to better understand the logistics that allows the group to have such an incredible reach. Lastly, as the world starts to open back up, I’m eager to travel abroad again to see the first-hand impact of the visiting educator trips.

What are your goals for the future?

My career goal is to become an academic plastic and reconstructive hand surgeon with a deep understanding of healthcare disparities and a research focus on improving surgical access domestically and internationally. As mobile devices have become increasingly ubiquitous in recent decades, I believe that mobile health will play a central role in many future public health programs. To that end, I am also working at Google Health to explore how cell phones can be leveraged to increase access to healthcare and improve outcomes in cardiovascular and pulmonary health.


Lawrence Cai  is a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at Stanford University. Prior to starting the ReSurge International Laub fellowship, Lawrence volunteered with us to establish a skin bank infrastructure in Kirtipur, Nepal. He also created metrics to measure the severity of hand and burn contractures, and developed a low-cost, adjustable hand splint to prevent contractures. Lawrence is also working at Google Health to explore how cell phones can be leveraged to increase access to healthcare and improve outcomes in cardiovascular and pulmonary health.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Honoring The Golden Girls of ReSurge

Volunteer Spotlight: Honoring The Golden Girls of ReSurge

USA Headquarters
July 27, 2021

It’s a sunny day at the Canyon Inn, a classic family diner decked in1970s sports memorabilia in Redwood City, California. A group of eight women, most of them in their 80s and 90s, gather around an outdoor table with a red and white checkered tablecloth, laughing and swapping stories from the operating room. These women are none other than the Golden Girls—a group of ReSurge International volunteers who’ve known each other ​​since the late 1950’s. The name is fitting, most likely inspired by the 1980s TV sitcom of the same title, featuring a group of strong, opinionated, and colorful women. Although no one remembers the details of the naming exactly.

For the past 50 years, these bright women have been loyal volunteers for ReSurge International. They are a tight knit group of nurses and anesthesiologists who worked together for many years in the operating rooms at Sequoia Hospital. They have a certain bond about them that you can only get from years of friendship and collaboration on the frontlines of healthcare work.

The Golden Girls have deep roots with ReSurge International. They worked with our founder Dr. Don Laub, and through him became involved with our humanitarian trips when we were called Interplast. Volunteer teams of medical professionals would make regular trips to Mexico and Honduras, providing care for local patients who lacked the means to pay for reconstructive surgery.

For Golden Girl Janet Lull, those early volunteer trips impacted her life in an incredible way.

“Being a volunteer for ReSurge changed my life. I was blessed to join medical trips to three different countries in Central America. Seeing the families, full of hope and anticipation for their loved ones to finally get surgical care, brought the reality of what we were doing home. To know that many of these families walk miles and miles to get to a hospital is humbling. I’ll never forget it.”

There are many ways to volunteer, and the Golden Girls soon found a creative way to use their expertise to solve a need and drive impact. For facial operations like cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, there are about six surgical items needed to create a sterile environment. It is very expensive to buy these items pre-packaged, and they almost always come with an excess of materials. So the Golden Girls would collect the correct tools for facial surgeries, and put them into small bundles in an autoclave wrapper. These custom face-packs were then ready for sterilization and convenient for travel. “Having these face-packs meant that our surgical teams would have everything they needed in one place, “said Dora Rusin-Gomez, Director of Volunteer Services & Medical Supplies. “The custom packs worked perfectly for us because they save us a lot of time, effort and funds,”

Throughout the years, the Golden Girls would meet regularly, making at least 100 face-packs at a time. “What seems like a simple item, these face-packs, is actually extremely important for a surgical procedure and it needs to be correctly prepared.” Janet says. “I love knowing that the face-pack I’ve helped to assemble will end up being used to correct a congenital condition in a far away country.”

This particular day at the Canyon Inn is a special one for the Golden Girls. It’s the first time they’ve seen each other since the Covid 19 pandemic, and the excitement, love, and nostalgia is palpable. It is also a special day because it is one of the last times the Golden Girls will be meeting as a working group. Now that everyone is vaccinated, they will still meet weekly for lunch, but they are finally retiring from their volunteer work after almost 50 incredible years of service.

Janet left us with some wise words about the power of volunteer work. “To be a volunteer is a gift that gives one a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It’s not always easy to find the right volunteer match, but there is much need in the world. Sometimes what might seem simple can actually make a huge impact.”

From the bottom of our hearts at ReSurge International, we want to thank and honor all of the incredible women who make up the Golden Girls volunteer group. Their years of service, laughter, and love have made such a difference in our work, and will live on well into the future.

Thank you:

Janet Lull
Ruthie Gallagher
Joan Wheelwright
Marty Bernard
Donna McKinney
Katie Holmes
Sandy Gunnarson
Jean Kucic
Irene Afendakis
Beth Charvonia

There are many ways to support us in our mission. Learn more about supporting our programs here, or reach out to dora@resurge.org about volunteer opportunities.

 

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