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Kona Community Hospital Nurse Prepares for Medical Mission to Cuba

September 25, 2019, 1:32 PM HST
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OR Nurse Dylan Palazzo and coworkers. PC:

Dylan Palazzo, a registered nurse in the Kona Community Hospital Surgical Services department, is preparing to depart on a humanitarian medical mission to Havana, Cuba, on Nov. 6, 2019.

Palazzo is participating as an operating room nurse volunteer for Operation Walk Albany (OWA). He will join a team of 50 volunteer medical specialists whose mission is to provide free orthopaedic surgical care to patients who suffer from debilitating bone and joint conditions.

Operation Walk Albany is a chapter of parent organization, Operation Walk. Operation Walk (OW) is a volunteer medical nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides free orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeries to underserved areas, both in the US and internationally. Operation Walk is also committed to training local orthopedic healthcare professionals on advanced surgical procedures to treat diseases of hip and knee joints.

Palazzo learned of Operation Walk Albany several years ago while working as an OR nurse at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York. He was inspired by OWA founder and surgeon Jared Roberts’ role in a previous Operation Walk mission to Panama.

When OWA began seeking a volunteer medical team to participate in their Cuba humanitarian efforts, he knew this an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.

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The trip will be Palazzo’s first humanitarian medical mission.

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When asked why he volunteered, Dylan said, “These patients could never have access to these surgeries. Orthopaedic surgeries give patients a better quality of life by increasing mobility and relieving pain. I just knew I wanted to help.”

Dylan’s enthusiasm is contagious when he says, “This is going to be a great experience and I’m super excited to have the opportunity to do this.”

Over a four-day period, the OWA medical team will conduct 60 surgeries representing $2 to $3 million of care.

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The primary focus now for OWA team members is to raise funds for the cost of the humanitarian trip to Cuba, which is approximately $150,000. All trip costs are covered via fundraising and donations. Operation Walk Albany has established a GoFundMe page.

Charlie Cholet, RN, Surgical Services department manager, says that the entire department is proud of Dylan’s upcoming volunteer trip.

“He exemplifies the caring spirit of the Surgical Service staff at KCH,” Cholet. “His tireless energy and cheerful demeanor will be a tremendous asset for the mission.”

For more information on Operation Walk Albany, go online.

About Kona Community Hospital

Founded in 1914, KCH is a 94-bed full-service acute care hospital with 24-hour emergency department recently designated as a Level III trauma center supporting the west region of the Island of Hawai‘i. It is a member of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, a special agency of the state of Hawaii established in 1996. It is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. KCH is dedicated to providing and enhancing accessible comprehensive healthcare services to the West Hawai‘i community.

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