Patrick Byrne wants to build a
charitable program at Hospital
Punta Pacifica, a Hopkins
affiliate in Panama.
Every year since he joined the Johns Hopkins Hospital faculty in 2001, Patrick Byrne has made at least one trip abroad to volunteer his surgical skills to disadvantaged people across the world, including those in Vietnam, Ecuador, China and Kenya. Now, however, as medical director at the Johns Hopkins affiliate Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama, he sees an opportunity to make a difference every day, year after year, in the lives of a nation full of children.
Organizations regularly reach out to treat Panamanian children with cleft lip and palette and other facial deformities. But even with such efforts, an important element of care—especially for those with palette deformities—can still be lacking: continuity. Now, with Johns Hopkins presence in Panama, Byrne hopes those children can receive the extended care and treatment they need to make their surgeries successful. “There is no question that if you fix a cleft lip, you’ll change a life, but the cleft palette kids need more than just surgery,” Byrne says. “They often need help from dentists, oral surgeons and speech therapists. Our hope is that we can establish long-term relationships with these families in Panama so we can see them for follow-up.”
In recent years, Punta Pacifica has held two charitable programs offering procedures to disadvantaged children who need cleft lip and palette repairs. The institution donates the supplies, anesthesia and pre- and postoperative care. “One of our biggest goals is to incorporate a charitable component to our engagement with the hospital in Panama,” Byrne says. “It’s a good thing to encourage, and it’s something we hope we can expand to other hospitals around the world.”