The medical and surgical team at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach provides medical care to the Fiji community

Shaun Setty, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric and Adult Congenital Cardiac Surgery, MemorialCare Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital, led a full medical and surgical team under the auspices of the Sai Prema Foundation on a mission trip to Fiji to treat children with congenital heart disease. The team included Sarah Bebee, CST, and Sandy Tolentino, RN, of MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s, along with other healthcare professionals from the United States, Oman and Australia. This international team traveled to Fiji to perform surgeries at the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital for local families.

The team performed 30 surgeries in nine days. That’s about three to four surgeries a day. The youngest child Dr. Setty and the team operated on was 7 weeks old and the oldest was 13 years old. All surgeries were completely free for families.

“When there is a goal at hand, the team pulls together,” says Shaun Setty, MD “Even though the team came from all over the world, we knew these kids didn’t have access to the services that we offer. It was a great motivator for us and inspired us.

Dr. Setty and Sandy used to travel on mission trips, having done several in the past. Sarah, however, had no previous experience, but did not feel intimidated by the trip. The whole team, despite having different health backgrounds, was united in the spirit of helping these less fortunate families who would otherwise have to spend thousands of dollars to get their child treated.

Towards the end of the trip, the team’s supplies were running out, so they had to brainstorm and think of ways to provide the same level of care to the last patients as the first. The team completed the last of the procedures by finding other ways to use the extra materials they had, such as towels and tarps. This allowed them to maintain the same level of care they provided during the first surgery. Although the team was exhausted from the multiple daily surgeries, they found their work very rewarding and were happy to provide care to a community that would not normally have access to it.

“This trip really made me appreciate all the amenities and support we have at Miller Children’s & Women’s and Long Beach Medical Center,” said Sarah Bebee, cardiac surgery technician at Long Beach Medical Center. “This trip has also strengthened my relationship with Dr. Setty and Sandy, as well as helped me understand my job and what I bring to the patient.”

Christine E. Phillips