Lending a Healing Hand

Digital Debut

Lending a Healing Hand

One World Surgery provides continuum of care to patients globally

One World Surgery in Chicago, Illinois, a nonprofit, partners with communities, health-care providers and leaders in health care to deliver surgical services globally. ASCA has joined hands with the organization to help fulfill its mission. Below is an excerpt from an interview with Claire Cunningham, executive director of the organization.


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Tell me about One World Surgery.

CUNNINGHAM: Five billion people lack access to surgical care globally. One World Surgery is confronting this global health crisis by delivering surgery to those people in need.

In chronically underfunded health systems, surgical care is ignored and widely inaccessible to the poor. Local facilities can lack appropriate supplies and equipment. Medical professionals often times do not have access to training in the latest techniques. Few can afford the high cost of surgery.

Our vision is a world with safe, timely and accessible surgical care. Our mission is to ignite the spirit of service and transform lives by providing access to high-quality surgical care globally.

How does One World Surgery provide access to global surgical services?

CUNNINGHAM: We have three cornerstone programs: operating global surgery centers, leading surgical medical missions and supporting local medical communities through education and training.

Our ASC in Honduras, the Holy Family Surgery Center, is located on the 2,000-acre ranch of a children’s home, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH). Half of our ASC staff members were raised in that children’s home. The ASC has three operating rooms, seven overnight recovery bays, a dental clinic and an eye clinic. Merlin Antúnez, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, is our full-time, on-site medical director. In 2017, we will impact more than 6,000 lives in Honduras.

Our weeklong medical missions include physicians, other clinical participants, nonclinical participants, and family members. We host one or two medical mission teams each month, with up to 60 volunteers per team. Typically, about half of each team is clinical personnel with approximately seven physicians, 20 nurses and two sterile processors. Currently, all medical missions take place at the ASC in Honduras, and we already have more than 20,000 hours of volunteered labor in 2017.

Our educational programs take place at our conference center in Honduras. Recently, we had a CRNA who went down for the 17th time, and hosted a training program for the Honduran anesthetists and provided continued training. Our focus on education, training, and capacity-building assures that we are not only filling a gap in the current medical system but also investing in the future of surgical care for the countries we serve.