PA Alum Volunteers with ISF

Tiffany (Carter) Fiore, a 2012 graduate from the Pace University-Lenox Hill Hospital Physician Assistant program, recently returned from a surgical mission in Santiago, Dominican Republic where she took part in 5 reconstructive scoliosis cases.  Fiore is a volunteer with the International Surgical Foundation (ISF), a non-profit Christian based charity serving the medical needs of the impoverished population of the Dominican Republic and surrounding areas.  ISF is the collaboration of many dedicated professionals who witness first-hand how extreme poverty can result in profound neglect of many spine related problems. This has left many within the population suffering from major neurologic disorders that could have been prevented with proper clinical follow-up.

Fiore, along with her attending physician, Dr. Kevin A. McCracken of the Orthopaedic and Spine Center of New Jersey, set flight on September 5th 2013 and were greeted by over two dozen team members ranging from surgeons, registered nurses, nurse first assists, and scrub technicians.  The very next morning the surgical team assembled in clinic to decide which patients would be selected for surgery.  Fiore states “It was such a hard process to decide who gets a surgery that many were waiting years to have.”  Due to an electrical outage in the hospital, the team had to go from three promised operating rooms to only one.  The first surgery started at 4:00pm and lasted over 6 hours.  Fiore assisted Dr. McCracken and ISF founder Dr. Duane Pitt in a scoliosis reconstructive case. 

On day two of the mission, the team was given two operating rooms where they were able to complete three surgeries.  Fiore assisted Dr. McCracken and Arizona spine surgeon Dr. Ed Song with another reconstructive scoliosis case.  The surgery lasted over 8 hours and the patient recovered incredibly.  On the third and final surgical day, one last procedure took place to bring the final count to five.  “Even though these operations were long and your body is exhausted, they always leave you wanting to do more” Fiore recalls.

Fiore returned to the states and has shared her story and experience within her community and with Pace University’s PA alumni during a recent dinner at the annual New York State Society of Physician Assistants (NYSSPA) conference in Tarrytown, NY.   She continues to work as a surgical first assist in spine surgery and looks forward to the next mission set to take place in September 2014.  “I encourage everyone to get involved with a medical mission.  Not only did it make me a better practicing PA, it gave me a better understanding of global health care systems and their effect on patient’s wellbeing”.