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Love comes to the rescue

As they have done for the past 30 years, the Shriners Children’s Hospital has sent a team to the territory to care for children with orthopedic problems.  A team of four was in the territory last week from Honolulu for their second visit this year.

The Shriner’s Hospital for Children provides advanced care for children with burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate regardless if the families are able to pay for the services, says Dr. Craig Ono who led the team.

Traveling with Dr. Ono, who is the surgeon and assistant chief of staff at Shriners, are Sherlyn Caneda, a Nurse Practitioner, their Outreach Coordinator Sandy Zukeran and Orthotics/Prosthetics Manager, Ken Mandler. Dr. Ono said during this second visit, that an estimate of 116 young patients were checked.  60 were follow ups and 46 were new patients, with the majority of the cases resulting from sport injuries, especially knee injuries from football.

He said that the Shriners have been coming once a year to American Samoa for the past 30 years, however, due to the increase of patients, the Shriners team are now visiting biannually.

“Initially we make recommendations on what to do with the patients that we see, whether they can be treated locally or should come to Honolulu for further treatment.

“We have a total of 18 patients that we need to fly out to Hawaii sometime this year or next year for further treatment” said Dr Ono.

Dr. Ono said they also see some problems of fractured plate of the hip. “Children with these types of problems, when recognized, need to be taken to Honolulu as soon as possible, to be treated quickly.

The most common problem they have faced during this trip, he noted,  is the incidence of “club foot”, where children are born with feet that are turned down, which in some cases, can be treated with casts.  He further explained that in the course of a year and half ago, they have taken care of over 40 patients to Honolulu, from the territory.

Sherlyn Caneda said that compared to last trip to the territory, six months ago, this trip is busier.

“Our patients numbers have tended to increase, and we have been busier and busier. I was lucky enough to come six months ago and the number of the initial patients has increased, and that is always exciting, because it shows that we’re building a good relationship with Dr. Ledua and the community.”

Dr. Akapusi Ledua, LBJ Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief of Orthopedic Surgery thanked the Shriners for their support .“We are very fortunate to have their services provided for our people  and the community should make use of these services, because they are specialized services.” he said.

He noted that the relationship the local orthopedic office has with the Shriners is very solid, and whenever they come across a serious case, they only need to pick up the phone and call Honolulu.

He also commended the local Shriners Club for their assistance in bringing down the Shriner’s team and also in assisting the patients who need to travel to Honolulu for further treatment. “Thank you for your contribution” he said to the American Samoa Shriner's Club.

The local Shriners club fundraises every year to help pay the transportation costs for patients traveling to the Shriners hospital in Honolulu, Hawai’i for treatment. Dr Ono who led the team, is a surgeon, and likes being part of this team, as shown by his affiliation with both the U.S. Army and Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu, which provides orthopedic, burn and spinal-cord-injury care at no cost, to children throughout the Pacific.

In reference to the Shriners medical team, Ono stated last week that “It's not just the single-service physician (doing the job). It's also the therapists, the nurses; a group of people called care coordinators; we have a dedicated group in our operating room -- people we operate with every day, so they're a team. ... It's everybody from the maintenance staff all the way up to our top hospital administrator.”

“Actually, I think the best thing about working here at Shriners is that we have such a great team. I don't think anybody could do it alone,” he said.

According to the Shriner’s website, Ono is a surgeon with the Army Reserve, in the 9th Mission Support Command. In just a few weeks, Col. Ono will be deployed to Afghanistan for three months—his fourth tour of duty in a combat zone since Desert Storm in the early '90s.

Ono joined the Army partly as a way to help pay for his medical training. Besides Shriners and the Army, Ono also teaches surgery at the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine and the U.S. Defense Department's F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. According to the Shriner’s website, Love to the Rescue highlights the Shriners Hospitals for Children’s outstanding medical care and its unique ingredient – love.

“Every day at Shriners Hospitals for Children, love comes to the rescue through pediatric specialty care, innovative research and world-class medical education. “For nearly 90 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children has relied on self-funding and local fundraising efforts to care for nearly a million children with special medical needs, regardless of their ability to pay. “Our wide range of healthcare providers deliver exceptional, compassionate and family-centered care for children, but until now, our story went untold.

“We are excited to embark on this marketing campaign to share our story with people across the nation. “With continued public support, we can keep the Shriners Hospitals for Children mission alive for another 90 years,” said Michael G. Severe, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Shriners Hospitals for Children.

 The integrated marketing campaign includes national television commercials featuring Shriners Hospitals for Children patients on more than 25 channels, including CNN, Fox News Channel, TBS and E!. The campaign also includes online advertising and direct mail marketing. Public relations efforts will help tell the Shriners Hospitals for Children story through national and regional media.