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In 2012, the non-profit CRNAs On a Mission was founded to support the travel of volunteer UNC nurse anesthetists traveling with medical missions that expand access to anesthesia care worldwide. Over 10+ years, this fund has supplement trip-related expenses for the almost 20 medical missions taken by volunteer UNC CRNAs, including Shanna Weaver, Brittney Paduchowski, Adam Hobbs, Lili Sumney, Dori Baboolal, and Laura (Niday) Madison. CRNAs On a Mission also offsets the expenses of UNC CRNAs who invest personal resources and paid vacation in order to contribute their training and talents to populations in under-resourced countries such as Rwanda, Palestine, and the Dominican Republic who do not have resources or access to obtain life-changing surgical care.

Since 2018, UNC CRNAs have volunteered with Medical Aid for Children of Latin America (MACLA) in the Dominican Republic. Comprised of multi-disciplinary teams from across the U.S., MACLA focuses its mission on providing advanced surgical care to the greatest patient number possible. Over long, but rewarding days in the OR, each mission introduces UNC CRNAs and other MACLA volunteers to pediatric patients and their families who travel hours, even days, to receive advanced medical care from skilled U.S-trained providers.

Over a fast-moving week in the Dominican Republic in February 2024, Brittney and Adam joined other MACLA volunteers and a Dominican anesthesiologist in treating over 80 children to correct deformities including cleft lip, cleft palate, burn scar contractures, and other soft tissue deformities of the hands and feet. For cases ranging from year-old babies to young adults, Brittney and Adam conducted pre-op evaluations, provided intra-operative anesthesia care and administered enhanced recovery post-op care. Out of the OR, they created anesthetic plans, managed and secured medical supplies/equipment, screened potential patients, and educated anesthesiology residents studying in the Dominican Republic on peri-operative anesthesia care.

Back home delivering anesthesia care in a highly resourced U.S. flagship hospital system, UNC CRNAs work to secure anesthesia equipment at an affordable rate so that MACLA can increase the surgical care it extends to children living in countries the organization serves.

UNC nurse anesthetists who want to learn more on joining a CRNAs on a Mission trip should reach out to Brittney Paduchowski to identify opportunities to get involved and available funding to support participation. Though many CRNAs finance trip participation in part with their own resources, lack of money should not be a deterrent. For department nurse anesthetists who want to participate, UNC Anesthesiology offers financial assistance. Ask UNC Anesthesiology Chief Aaron Lemmon if you would be eligible for the CRNA on a Mission fund to join the worldwide efforts to extend anesthesia care to under-resourced areas.