OIC & UCLA Extend Reach to East Africa: Notes from Ethiopia

OIC & UCLA Extend Reach to East Africa
Notes from Ethiopia
By Anthony A. Scaduto, M.D.
President & CEO
Orthopaedic Institute for Children
April 7, 2014

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A Call to Action

Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa. Of its 91 million citizens, half are children under the age of fifteen. It is among the ten poorest countries in the world, where 60 million people subsist on less than on dollar per day. 

Add those facts to the World Health Organization's estimate that 12% of all disabilities worldwide are due to orthopaedic injuries (equal to cancer and HIV/AIDS combined) and you have a staggering call to action ...

OIC Invests Seed Money

Since 2005, Soddo Christian Hospital, led by Idaho native and orthopaedic surgeon Duane Anderson, has been serving the sick and injured of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea. Despite this commitment, there simply have not been enough orthopaedic surgeons, especially pediatric-trained surgeons, available to care for such a large population. 

In early 2013, Orthopaedic Institute for Children (OIC), whose mission is to care for children with musculoskeletal disorders and to advance care worldwide, invested the seed money through the OIC Foundation to explore ways to help Dr. Anderson with orthopaedic injuries.

The OIC/UCLA team was led by Dr. Nicholas Bernthal, an orthoapedic tumor surgeon. Dr. Bernthal has traveled the globe seeking to help the less fortunate and is the visionary behind this partnership.

The cross-cultrual exchange of ideas during the Bernthal team's first visit inspired Soddo and OIC to establish a partnership between the institutions. The partnership calls for a team of OIC/UCLA medical providers to travel to Ethiopia to perform surgeries six days per week, teach Ethiopian medical residents, and learn lessons in practicing medicine in a resource-sparse environment from the extraordinary physicians and staff of Soddo.

Having developed a reputation in the region for clinical excellence, the Soddo Hospital draws patients who may travel for days, often over rugged terrain and hundreds of miles, in search of a surgeon to heal broken bones and injuries that are often quite severe.

Philanthropic Support

At his first meeting of the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica Board of Advisors, inspired by what he learned of this initiative from Dr. Bernthal, new board member Jean-Marc Chapus sprang to action. He committed to underwrite the project for the next four years. We are grateful to this inspired philanthropist.

On the Ground

Ten days after Mr. Chapus' donation, OIC/UCLA Chief Orthopaedic Surgical Resident Scott Montgomery, M.D. embarked upon a three week assignment in Soddo.

Dr. Montgomery is in his fifth year of surgical residency at UCLA. He regularly treats OIC patients at our downtown Clinic and our Luskin Children's Clinic at the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica on the Westside. He was born and raised in Exeter, California, a city of 10,000 with a proud farming history, located four hours north of Los Angeles in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

Dr. Montgomery is a graduate of Weill Cornell Medical College and University of California, Santa Barbara. His wife, Kate, works for the American Red Cross. Following his residency, Dr. Montgomery plans to pursue a Fellowship in Sports Medicine.

Attached you will find Dr. Montgomery's blog, "Notes from Ethiopia." Please enjoy reading his observations and experiences. 

Orthopaedic Institute for Children and our partner UCLA share a common vision of advancing orthopaedic care worldwide. Dr. Montgomery's notes reflect our mutual commitment.