Operation Walk Boston is a major volunteer effort through which Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) physicians, nurses, physical therapists and other staff donate their time for one week each spring to provide joint replacement surgery to patients in the Dominican Republic (DR) who would otherwise have no access to treatment for painful and debilitating conditions.
In addition to the improving patients’ mobility, pain status, and quality of life, Operation Walk Boston provides remarkable teaching and research components. The program offers training for DR healthcare providers, both experienced and newly minted surgeons, nurses, therapists, and medical students, who benefit from learning advanced surgical and post-operative rehabilitation and care procedures. DR surgeons have already adopted the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist put forth by BWH surgeon and healthcare policy expert Atul Gawande, MD, MPH and Brigham and Women’s nurses are teaching Dominican Republic nurses new standards of post-operative care to reduce the risk of infection.
Led by BWH surgeons Thomas Thornhill, MD, and Richard Scott, MD, Operation Walk Boston has, to date, provided hip and knee replacements to more than 250 patients. Dr. Thornhill has developed a unique collaboration with a leading Dominican Republic orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Luis Alcantara, and other prominent healthcare providers in the country, alliances that have resulted in delivery of the highest quality care.
Operation Walk Boston receives generous contributions of gifts-in-kind each year but needs more than $150,000 in philanthropic support annually to sustain and expand surgical services. Specifically, donations will:
• expand Operation Walk’s clinical outcome studies
• pay the cost of talented Dominican clinicians and nurses to come to Boston for training
• defray the cost of pharmacy items, dry goods, walkers, intravenous supplies, and other basic needs
• cover the cost of a joint replacement for a patient or patients