Over the past 10 years, Suzanne Caragianis has developed a strong desire to undertake medical missionary work overseas. She loves to mentor, teach and give to those who do not have the same access to our high standard of health care and education.

Previously, she has been to India to work with Dr Raja Sabapathy (one of her mentors) in Coimbatore, India. In September 2006, she presented to the surgeons and taught therapists at the Indian Society for Surgery of Hand, Chandigarh, India. She is informally a mentor to the newly developed Indian Hand Therapy Association and will be helping to support them with their hosting of the IFSSH & IFSHT in New Delhi in 2013.

Suzanne has just returned from the Kingdom of Bhutan where she and Dr Philip Griffin (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon), went to teach and establish a Hand Therapy unit at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral (JDWNR) Hospital in Thimphu, Bhutan. They worked closely with Dr Tshewang Thinley (Orthopaedic Surgeon) and his team, as well as Karma Fuentsho (Physiotherapist) and the therapy staff. Suzanne taught a Hand and Upper Limb course and had so many keen therapists, doctors and technicians attend from all over Bhutan. She was hopeful for 25 students, but had 51 attendees to her first day and 62 to her second course.

Suzanne saw a mixture of in-patients with acute trauma or post-operative cases as well as many out-patients. She distributed a large amount of donated equipment from medical companies in Australia, Rotary, hospitals and individual therapists. The Australian Hand Therapy Association was also generous in its contribution. This enabled Suzanne to establish an in-patient splinting and exercise area within the Physiotherapy department and a more extensive Hand Therapy Unit in the outpatient physiotherapy area. She also taught the therapists about low technique splinting and simple exercise ideas so our colleagues all over Bhutan could go away with some new and practical ideas.

In two short weeks she believes they achieved their goals of providing surgery and treatment for some complex hand injuries, education and training of the local hospital staff and therapists and technicians who had travelled from throughout Bhutan to learn. They also established a designated out-patient hand therapy area in the major hospital in Thimphu.

Suzanne is now maintaining an ongoing mentoring network via the internet and still continues to send care packages of extensive hand therapy and wound care supplies.

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