Wooster residents champion Honduras pathology lab
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series about local participants in medical missions trips by the Central American Medical Outreach (CAMO), which is headquartered in Orrville.
It started with the story of a vulture on the cross in the courtyard of the hospital in Honduras. This vulture would await his meal of human tissue being discarded behind the hospital after that day’s surgery.
This story was shared in 2005 with Dr. Arun Masih, the chief of staff of Wooster Community Hospital. As a pathologist, Dr. Masih was intrigued. This was the beginning of his 12-year journey with CAMO.
Dr. Masih has been the champion, along with Susan Borocz, a histotechnologist, in the development of the first pathology lab in the western region of Honduras.
It would seem like an easy journey by stateside standards.
Here it is not. Just one or two pathologists graduate per year. Few labs exist, and those who own the pathology system in Honduras maintain a monopoly with a mafia-like attitude. So every year we work together, building and equipping the lab and training the staff. Seems easy? Not so!
There is no formal education in Honduras for cytotechnologists or histotechologists.
So CAMO created a curriculum and this year three students will graduate.
This past week, Dr. Masih, along with the CAMO educational development team and staff, met with leadership of two of the three major universities in Honduras. We are sharing the curriculum to start the process of developing the first programs to train licensed professionals in cytotechnology, as well as respiratory therapy, neither of which exists in Honduras.
Meanwhile, in Santa Rosa de Copan, the CAMO pathology lab is functioning well. We process approximately 2,000 pap smears and 140 biopsies per month.
In this second week of CAMO teams, Dr. Masih and Susan are part of a larger team of professionals in the areas of emergency medicine, critical care, nutrition, literacy, respiratory therapy, and biomedical engineering, who continue to work with their Honduran professional partners.
From this small community of Wooster, Dr. Masih and Susan Borocz are two more members of the community who have made, and continue to make, a tremendous impact.
The 12 years of arduous development of our pathology lab and staff has paid off. The processing and interpretation of pap smears by our trained professionals provides early detection and treatment of cervical cancer and has saved many lives. Last year in just one region covered by this lab, 43 women had early diagnosis and treatment.
Dedicated people can make the difference, but it takes time and it is not for the weak hearted.