Sara VanBronkhorst Schaafsma and Lindsey Retterath: Severe pediatric burn accidents in Chaclacayo, Peru

Read proposals by Rachel Brim, Lindsey Retterath & Sara VanBronkhorst Schaafsma, the MSU College of Human Medicine students who were selected to receive Blake W.H. Smith, PhD, Scholarships for 2012.

The Proposal

Sara VanBronkhorst SchaafsmaWith great enthusiasm, we—Sara VanBronkhorst Schaafsma and Lindsey Retterath—are co-applying for a Blake Smith Endowed Scholarship. Before delving into the details of our summer plans, let us brief you on how the planning itself began:

In late August, amidst the shuffle of orientation events, we found ourselves in an effervescent conversation. We spoke of common experiences as Spanish-English medical interpreters and shared goals toward populations-based medicine. From ad hoc conversations to assuming leadership roles in the Latin American and Native American Medical Association student group to planning this summer project, we continue to anchor what motivates us to practice medicine. Both of us have experiences in Central and South America. We aim to expand our knowledge and the reach of medical care to the multivalent populations that comprise and come from these regions. This summer, our focus would be on the specific problem of severe burn accidents during a two-week stay at Hogar San Francisco de Asis, a children’s medical home in Chaclacayo, Peru.

Lindsey RetterathIn 1987, pediatrician Anthony Lazzara, MD, founded Hogar San Francisco de Asis. The home receives its funding from his Miami-based nonprofit, Villa la Paz Foundation. In 2010, Sara volunteered at this medical home for two months. Dr. Lazzara, Medical Director, will serve as our physician mentor by facilitating and overseeing our work on behalf of his organization and our growth as student physicians through first-hand experiences with patients and providers. Hogar San Francisco de Asis provides free inpatient medical care for about 50 Peruvian children at a time. These patients come with a range of medical conditions, including cleft lip and palate, severe burns, leukemia, orthopedic conditions, and autism. During their time at the home, they receive constant medical supervision, education, physical therapy, and emotional support. We could not be more thrilled at the opportunity to partner with an organization that so thoroughly considers and effectively implicates holistic patient-centered care in the context of disease, illness, community, and culture.

When we asked Dr. Lazzara what would both benefit the home, and offer us an educational experience, he mentioned that severe burns are a common condition among his patients and in Peru at large. Our goal is to understand the context of pediatric burn accidents, the long-term effects they have on the life of the child and his or her family, and the suggestions offered by families and health care providers for primary and secondary burn prevention. With our mentor, we are discussing the potential to collect data by interviewing children who are burn victims, their families, and their healthcare providers. We would only implement such a project, of course, upon receiving IRB approval. Whether we follow the research path, or simply spend time caring for the children, this experience will provide opportunities for growth in our medical knowledge, our perspectives on cultural nuances, and our empathy for patients as they face serious illnesses.