Costa Rica Global Outreach Program


Partnering with surgeons at the National Children’s Hospital “Hospital Nacional de Ninos” in Costa Rica’s capital city San Jose, SpineHope launched a global outreach program in 2014. Our week long medical mission trips to Costa Rica have been a huge success, averaging 2 per year. Our amazing volunteer teams have been able to operate on several children suffering from various complex spine conditions, have seen even more in clinic to recommend treatment plans and evaluate options, and continue to educate local surgeons and physicians on innovative techniques and after-care procedures. Our host surgeons, including Dr. Jorge Alpizar and Dr. Max Mendez, their residents and hospital staff continue to show how dedicated they are to our shared mission and have been wonderful to work with. Without our corporate sponsors, individual donors and our amazing SpineHope volunteers, these trips would not be possible. For Costa Rica specifically, we would like to thank Medtronic Spine USA, Meditek, SentryNeuro, NuVasive Spine Foundation, Alliance Spine, Ethicon and DePuy Synthes Spine for their financial support and equipment/medical supply donations. These collaborative efforts allow us to make a difference and help children in need. With a waiting list of 100+ children in need of surgery, we are able to provide care to almost 10% each visit. Plus, we are able to see 30+ children in clinic, including those we operated on. How rewarding it is to see the smiles on the children’s faces post surgery and see how far they come when we have the pleasure of seeing them in subsequent visits. This program is endorsed by the SRS Global Outreach Program. Thank you to all involved who make this possible!! NEXT SPINEHOPE COSTA RICA MEDICAL MISSION TRIP: FEB 24TH – MAR 4TH, 2018. If you would like to make a donation to support the volunteers and children for our next trip, CLICK HERE.

14344726_1197464733646398_5042093909003929836_n2017 COSTA RICA – Our 2017 Costa Rica Medical Mission Trip (February 25–March 4, 2017) was a success! Our efforts changed the lives of 11 Costa Rican children. We took a team of 12 amazing volunteers and worked alongside local spine surgeons (Dr. Jorge Alpizar and Dr. Max Mendez), residents in training, medical staff , and volunteers at the Hospital Nacional de Niños in San Jose.

In addition to the surgeries performed, we:

  • Evaluated 26 children during two days of clinic (pre- op, future candidate-screening and post-op/annual follow-up);
  • Held a special education event, hosted and sponsored by UNIBE (Universidad de Iberoamerica) at the Park Inn Hotel, consisting of presentations from all four of our volunteer surgeons, that provided several local surgeons, physicians, students and medical staff information on state-of-the-art techniques and treatment options for complex spine conditions;
  • Had our global outreach program picked up by the well- respected newspaper, La Nacion; and
  • Were given a live segment on one of the top television news programs on local channel 6 (Vivo). Our volunteer anesthesiologist, Dr. Jorge Guerrero from San Antonio, was interviewed along with Dr. Chris an Blanco from UNIBE. We were grateful for the opportunity to share our work and mission with over 500,000 viewers.

Thank you to our 2017 Costa Rica mission trip volunteers! Without you, this medical mission would not have been possible:

  • BRANDON BLACK, Equipment and Implant Representa ve, Medtronic Spine USA
  • MATTHEW GECK, MD, Spine Surgeon, Seton Spine and Scoliosis Center
  • WYNN BRIDGES GORDY, Neuromonitoring Tech, NuVasive, Inc.
  • JORGE GUERRERO, MD, Anesthesiologist and OR Translator, Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
  • CURTIS JACKSON, Equipment and Implant Representa ve, Medtronic Spine USA
  • EMILY KEGANS, Neuromonitoring Tech, SentryNeuro
  • KIM KING, Onsite Coordinator and Translator, Rackspace
  • RYAN MURDOCK, MD, Lead Spine Surgeon, Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics
  • TODD RITZMAN, MD, Spine Surgeon, Akron Children’s Hospital
  • LT. MARICELA SOBERANES, DNP, CRNA and Translator, in the U.S. Navy
  • ALEC STALL, MD, Spine Surgeon, Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
  • WES VARGHESE, Neuromonitoring Tech, SentryNeuro

We look forward to our 2018 Costa Rica Medical Mission Trip scheduled for February 24 – March 4, 2018.

PHOTOS FROM THE 2017 MISSION:

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2016 COSTA RICA – We took a team of 15 incredible volunteers, comprised of surgeons, physicians, monitoring techs, nurses, equipment representatives, translators and other dedicated volunteers. Working with host surgeons (Dr. Jorge Alpizar, Dr. Max Mendez and Dr. Jose Vargas), local medical staff, and local volunteers, we:

  • Performed 11 complex pediatric spine surgeries;
  • Evaluated 27 children during two days of clinic (pre-op, future candidate-screening and follow-up);
  • Held an education conference (hosted by MEDITEK), consisting of presentations from all 4 of our volunteer surgeons (Dr. Matthew Geck, Dr. Laurence Mermelstein, Dr. Ryan Murdock and Dr. Alec Stall), that provided several local surgeons, physicians and medical staff information on state-of-the-art techniques and treatment options for Scoliosis and other spine conditions;
  • Presented to a group of 40 medical staff at the Hospital Nacional de Niños on the new innovative technology, SHILLA™ (presented by volunteer surgeon Dr. Alec Stall); and
  • Arranged a round-table discussion where our volunteer Anesthesiologist/OR translator, Dr. Jorge Guerrero, discussed Anesthesia protocols in the United States and how they differ from those in Costa Rica.

Children That Received Operations:

  •  Kalett Guerrero  *  Nayeli Vega Navarro  *  Fiorella Sanabria  *  Walter Salazar Perez  *  Jeimy Stewart Chaverri  * Maria Valeria Chaverri Esquivel  *  Hilary Tatiana Tellez Duran   *  Isabella Peralta  *  Janin Alfaro Jimenez  *  Juan Alberto Mora Aguilar  *  Yeimy Lizeth Ilama Cordero

Our Amazing Volunteers – February 2016 Costa Rica Medical Mission

  • Brandon Black, Equipment & Implant Representative, from Medtronic, Inc. in Austin, Texas
  • Mae Caime, Volunteer, from Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C. in Commack, New York
  • Matthew Geck, MD, Trip Leader & Surgeon from Seton Spine and Scoliosis Center in Austin, Texas
  • Bridges Gordy, Neuromonitoring, from Biotronic NeuroNetwork in Austin, Texas
  • Jorge Guerrero, MD, Anesthesiologist & Translator, from Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Texas
  • Curtis Jackson, Equipment & Implant Representative, from Medtronic, Inc. in Austin, Texas
  • Kim King , Onsite Coordinator & Translator, from Rackspace in Austin, Texas
  • Bari-Sue Mermelstein, MD, Volunteer, from Peace Love Pets Veterinary Care, in Commack, New York
  • Lawrence Mermelstein, MD, Surgeon, from Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C. in Commack, New York
  • Ryan Murdock, MD, Surgeon, from Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics in Austin, Texas
  • Mike Murphy, Equipment and Implant Representative, from Medtronic, Inc. in San Antonio, Texas
  • Alec Stall, MD, Surgeon, from Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Texas
  • Justin Silverstein, MD, Neuromonitoring, from Neuro Protective Solutions in New York
  • Kristopher Stillwell, PA, Surgeon Assistant, from Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C. in Commack, New York

This medical mission trip was a rewarding and impactful experience for all involved. The internal rewards of seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and having the realization of how we were all able to touch lives and make a significant contribution to humanity are almost indescribable. One of our volunteer surgeons and first time SpineHope team member, Dr. Laurence Mermelstein, may have said it best when he provided his post-trip feedback. He called it a, “life-changing experience” and added:

“I can honestly say this was a moving experience for us. Sometimes I forget that our mission in this career is to change lives and relieve suffering. This can be easily lost in the stress of running our own private practices in the world of medicine as a business. This past week allowed me to focus on the patient exclusively – and the appreciation we felt went beyond words (and therefore transcended any language gap). This mission itself ran almost flawlessly and was a logistical work of art. As a “newbie” to this trip, I can emphatically say I was impressed with the entire team – from organizational to medical. I hope that my presence brought a positive impact to the mission. I hope that you all can keep me in the loop going forward and I would love to hear some long term follow-up about all the patients we took care of this week. Please keep me in mind for future missions where I think I may be of service.”

Photos from our Costa Rica Medical Mission Trip – February 2016

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SpineHope Volunteers For Feb 2015 Mission Trip

  • Matthew Geck, MD (Spine Surgeon)
  • Ryan Murdock, MD (Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon)
  • Alec Stall, MD (Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon)
  • Henry “Culley” M. Hughes II, CNIM (Biotronic, Neuro-Monitoring)
  • Mike Urban (Biotronic Neuromonitoring)
  • Curtis Jackson (Medtronic, Implant Representative)
  • Brandon Black (Medtronic, Implant Representative)
  • Maricela Soberanes (CRNA/OR Translator)
  • Kimberley King (SpineHope Onsite Coordinator & Team Support)
  • Jordan Workman (SpineHope Onsite Coordinator & Team Support)

Children That Received Operations

  • Arline Rojas Rodriguez  *  Bianca Mendoza Poveda  *  Brenda Delgado Marchena  *  Emily Reyes Rivas  *  Ismael Torres Jimenez  *  Jordan Munoz Gonzalez  *  Maricruz Bolanos Barrillo  *  Rachel Araya Ramos  *  Sashlyn Alvarez Brenes  *  Wilbeth Orozco Castillo

Photos from our Costa Rica Medical Mission Trip – February 2015

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SpineHope Volunteers For July 2014 Mission Trip

  • Matthew Geck, MD (Spine Surgeon)
  • Kim Helman King (Biotronic, Intra-Operative Monitoring)
  • Curtis Jackson (Medtronic, Implant Representative)
  • Brandon Black (Medtronic, Implant Representative)
  • Krystal Sarcone (SpineHope Representative / Trip Coordinator)
  • Connie Abril (SpineHope Assistant Coordinator & Translator)

SpineHope Volunteers For Feb 2014 Mission Trip

  • Matthew Geck, MD (Spine Surgeon)
  • Sassan Keshavarzi, MD (Neuro-Surgeon)
  • Curtis Jackson (Medtronic, Implant Representative)
  • Henry “Culley” M. Hughes II, CNIM (Biotronic, Neuromonitoring)
  • Jordan Workman (DePuy Synthes, Ancillary OR Support & Translation)
  • Krystal Sarcone (SpineHope Representative  / Trip Coordinator)

Photos from our Costa Rica Medical Mission Trips – Feb & July 2014

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