When ReSurge sends a volunteer team to another country, we adhere to the same values that have guided our organization since it was founded decades ago. After ensuring our patients receive the best possible medical care, our top priority is to work with local medical providers to enhance skills and build capacity. By working to build the skills of our local teams, we are able to ensure our impact extends long after our volunteer teams have left the country.
In March, a 16-person team was dispatched to La Paz, Bolivia, for a two-week, hand-focused trip. One member, hand therapist Jolene Anderson, spent much of her time working with an eager team of Bolivian therapists.
Volunteer Spotlight on Hand Therapist Jolene Anderson
Jolene Anderson, OT, CHT, is an occupational therapist certified in hand therapy from Modesto, California. She is a member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and ReSurge volunteer hand therapist.
Jolene has a passion for South America.
As she says herself, she has always been drawn to South American culture finding that she often shares the same ideals as people in the region. So when ASSH and ReSurge established a partnership for a hand-focused trip to La Paz, Bolivia, Jolene jumped at the opportunity to use her skills in a place she already loved. “It wasn’t an opportunity I sought, but when it presented itself, I didn’t have to think before applying,” she says.
This was her first ReSurge trip and first time to Bolivia, though she’s had experience working in Ecuador as well.
For two weeks in La Paz, she teamed up with fellow volunteer therapist (also a member of ASSH) Cynthia Cooper, OT, CHT, and six Bolivian therapists to provide hand therapy for patients at Hospital Militar Cossmil.
Jolene seizes every opportunity to help exchange information with the young, Bolivian therapists. “It’s gratifying and fulfilling. I love working with local therapists and teaching. It’s also interesting. Here, you see cases you never see in the States."
Over the course of two weeks, Jolene and Cynthia saw about a dozen patients up to three times per week. Jolene worked with her local counterparts to strengthen splinting skills and teach other hand therapy techniques.