Town & Style St. Louis
September 8, 2015
Scoliosis is common and correctable. In the United States, the spinal curvature is almost always caught early and treated, but in the Dominican Republic, impoverished children with scoliosis face a life of pain, ridicule and exclusion. The disparity shocked Dr. Madelyn Stazzone three years ago when she first traveled to the island nation on a medical mission. The pediatric radiologist joined her husband, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and nine others from the medical field to perform scoliosis surgery on children at the Arturo Grullón Children’s Hospital in Santiago, the country’s second largest city.
The hospital was a bare-bones operation with conditions that were subpar by U.S. standards. “Children sit for weeks on end waiting for simple treatments that would be outpatient here,” Stazzone says. The operating room was dilapidated, with duct-taped floors. Equipment was antiquated or nonfunctional. Wheelchairs, medications and even gauze pads were scarce. Despite the limitations, the children and their families were patient, kind and appreciative. “That’s what drives us to do more,” Stazzone says.