In May, members of ReSurge’s board of directors visited our surgical outreach partner sites in Nepal and Dehradun, India. The purpose of their trip was to better understand the specific conditions and need in each location, and to view first-hand the treatment our dedicated local partners provide to underserved people in their communities year round (with time for a little sight-seeing on the side!).

We interviewed Laura Furmanski, ReSurge board chair, about her experience.

How long have you been a board member for ReSurge?

I’ve been on the board for about seven years, and just started my second term as board chair.

What made you want to join the ReSurge Board of Directors?

I first learned about ReSurge’s work as a guest at their annual gala many years ago.  I was really moved by the stories of the impact ReSurge has on patients’ lives, and I was inspired by the tireless work of our surgical partners in each country.  I joined the Board at an interesting inflection point when we began expanding our strategy to more explicitly embrace and foster education. I feel quite lucky to have been part of that journey with the organization.

Why do you think it is important for Board members to visit a ReSurge surgery site?

It’s incredibly powerful to visit our surgical outreach centers to understand first-hand the magnitude of need. It’s also critical to view that in the context of the environment our teams are working in–the infrastructure that exists, the broader health care ecosystem that is in place, and the specific needs of the surgeons and their teams.  Each program has a unique set of strengths and challenges, which we need to take into account with our plans.  There is always one key element that is constant across all of our programs, and that is the incredible passion, dedication and talent of our surgical partners and their teams.

How did the trip change your perspective of ReSurge’s work? 

I think it expanded my view of our work – it made everything really come into focus.  Seeing our board members who are medical professionals work with the in-country surgical teams during clinic day gave me a lot of insight into the thoughtful way they are all considering each case, learning from and educating one another and interacting with the patients. I was struck by how the discussions stayed very focused on ways to restore function and improve the lives of each patient.  The team always discussed different surgical techniques, and always in the context of how to provide the most benefit to the patient, while minimizing the complexity of the procedure.

I also gained a greater appreciation for the importance of understanding the local health care system.  I think Nepal is a great example of where collaborations with the medical schools, the health ministers, and organizations like PHECT-Nepal (Public Health Concern Trust Nepal) have been integral to developing local surgeons and ensuring reach into the communities across the country to find the patients that are in need of help.

How did the trip affect you personally?

When I returned from the trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about some of the patients and families that we met over the course of the week.  I was struck by the resilience of each individual and the love and support of their families.  Those things are universal, regardless of what country the patients live in. Unfortunately, however, the risks and access to care are still not universal. Seeing the disparity in person really reinforced my commitment to the work that we’re doing through ReSurge and inspired me to find ways to do even more, even faster, even more consistently.

Would you be interested in visiting another ReSurge surgical site or joining a medical mission trip?  If so, why?

Absolutely! Given the differences in our programs in Nepal and Dehradun, India, I realized how important it is to see the programs and understand the local health care environment in each of our regions.  I also found the experience to be incredibly inspirational.  I feel so lucky to be a part of ReSurge’s work