IVUmed Resident Scholar Nathan Hale, MD — Deschapelles, Haiti

The generous support of the Latin American Perpetual Education Fund made possible Dr. Nathan Hale’s IVUmed scholarship experience in Deschapelles, Haiti. During his time with mentor Robert Edelstein, MD, Dr. Hale participated in a surgical workshop focusing on general urology, serving over 200 patients.

Nathan Hale, MD

Nathan Hale, MD

After returning from the workshop, Dr. Hale reported, “I am so thankful that I was able to participate in this mission to Haiti. My opportunity to do this was only made possible by the generous donors who fund IVUmed. I thank you and want you to know of the change you are making in the lives of the patients treated, their families, and the members of each IVUmed team. Through IVUmed, we all become beacons of hope.

He continued, “I would like to share some of one patient’s words: ‘There really are no better words to say than thank you. A deeper concern invaded us and even plunged us into despair (we totally lost hope). The tears kept flowing from our eyes until the day of surgery. While I was in the recovery room, my wife asked you this question, ‘Do you think he will be Ok?’ You said he should. From that word, our worries started flying away and we took force. I can only say, ‘Thank you and all of your team.’ After the operation, I came from death to life.’ In the email were pictures of his road to recovery, and he looked like a new man. As I read the email, my heart swelled with joy to know the difference we made in this man’s life and in the lives of his family. I also realized that we had become this man’s beacon of hope.”

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IVUmed – Helping Children Around the World

IVUmed Rwanda

IVUmed in Rwanda

IVUmed’s Pediatric Urology Capacity Building Program makes quality surgical care available to children around the world – especially in low-resource areas. We accomplish this by building a global network of train-the-trainer centers of excellence. There are no pediatric urologists in sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and many places in India, leaving millions of children without access to care for debilitating urological conditions.

Pediatric urology diseases, malformations and injuries are among the most common conditions affecting children worldwide, and are up to 10 times more common than cleft lip and palate. In the US, when a baby boy is born with a condition such as hypospadias (a congenital condition in which the opening of the urethra is situated on the underside of the penis instead of at its tip), surgery can be performed before the child is even out of diapers, and there are few to no lasting effects. In countries where this type of surgery is not available however, shame, poor self-esteem and secrecy surround this condition, which often results in adult infertility if left unrepaired.

IVUmed’s teams of volunteer physicians, nurses, and anesthesiologists provide hands-on surgical workshops, lectures, online educational materials, telehealth consultation, and impact measures to equip doctors and nurses with the skills they need to care for children in their communities. In turn, these newly trained medical professionals build future capacity for care by passing along IVUmed training to their colleagues, fulfilling IVUmed’s motto, “Teach One, Reach Many”.

IVUmed’s focus on education stands out among global health organizations, as does our focus on urology. Another unique element to IVUmed is our collaborative model. While IVUmed is guided by a dedicated board and staff, leadership of our programs stems from the dynamic doctors and administrators at our many partner hospitals around the world. Their priorities lead our efforts, which are put into action by our volunteer doctors and nurses. Together, and with the generous donations of many benefactors, we are building a worldwide system of pediatric training programs, ensuring that children everywhere will have access to the care they need.

With the help of supporters like the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Societe Internationale d’Urologie (SIU), the American Urological Association (AUA), the Pan-African Urological Surgeons Association (PAUSA), and regional surgical associations, IVUmed is building a strong global network. Teaching hospitals throughout the world, skilled medical volunteers, ministries of health, local community leaders, international medical societies, regional colleges of surgeons, and charitable foundations combine strengths to give children everywhere the opportunity to lead the healthy, productive lives they deserve.

You can be involved too, whether a physician, engineer, photographer, philanthropist, medical student, etc.  We invite you to explore our volunteer opportunities here.

IVUmed patient in Vietnam

IVUmed in Vietnam


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Quotes from the Field: Pignon, Haiti

March was our busiest month yet at IVUmed – including five workshops across the globe! Our next few blog posts will highlight those trips with quotes from IVUmed volunteer medical providers and photographs from the regions served.


Today’s Highlight: Pignon, Haiti



“It was heartening to see the level of enthusiasm from trainees at all levels. I felt that the Haitians are eager to develop the skills and to use them in their own practices. This is a transformative time for healthcare in Haiti, and we are lucky to be part of it.” Catherine deVries, MD




“The local urologists were so grateful for the experience. After working with them for even a week, I could see improvement in their techniques. Making a difference like this (though it will take time) will truly improve the country. They were a great group of people, and with a refreshing drive to enhance their skills. It was inspiring to be a part such a great project that makes a real and immediate difference.” Jonathan Warner, MD




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IVUmed Volunteer Featured in Local Paper

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IVUmed is currently conducting a female reconstructive urology workshop in Pignon, Haiti at the Hopital Bienfaisance de Pignon until March 27, followed by a male reconstructive urology workshop through April 5th. The Morrison County Record out of Minnesota interviewed Justin Lindhart, a CRNA volunteer on the female urology team, on his fifth medical service trip to Haiti.


In his interview, Lindhardt shared details regarding his work with IVUmed and insights into providing medical training and care in Haiti, giving a perspective on the challenges and rewards of working in resource-poor areas around the world.




Lindhardt is quoted, saying,  “IVUmed takes care of the background checks, helps with booking flights, places to stay, insurance and proof of licensure, etc. They make it much easier for us…Our goal is to teach the Haitian physicians and nurses the necessary skills in current urology practice.”

“The hospital at Pignon, in comparison to other third world countries, is outstanding. They have Stryker Endo Suites which means they have high definition monitors and video equipment. They are able to hook up by satellite to any hospital around the world to assist in teaching and learning from others. By using this equipment they are able to watch other procedures at other sites,” Lindhardt said.

“The thing that impresses me the most is the resilience of the patients. An example is we did a procedure on a 3-year-old boy who had a hernia. The next day he got on a motorcycle with his dad for the three-hour trip home. Never complaining or fussing at all.”

“In other years we had support  in the form of supplies from St. Gabriel’s Hospital, Catholic Health Initiatives, and Little Falls Anesthesia which we were very thankful for. Now there is funding through IVUmed and others. They have everything we need ready for us when we get there,” he said.

Lindhardt concluded his interview by saying, “It is an absolutely wonderful learning experience. I would encourage anyone who can to try the experience.”


Our thanks to the Morrison County Record for covering this story, and to Justin Lindhardt and all of the many IVUmed volunteers who serve around the world to help realize IVUmed’s goal to make quality urological care available to all people.

Read the original interview on The Morrison County Record website here.


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Dr. Robert Edelstein: Friend of Haiti

Dr. Robert Edelstein first traveled to Haiti for humanitarian service after the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake in 2010. However, his commitment to helping improve medical training and patient care in Haiti was not satisfied through a single visit. He has just returned from his fourth IVUmed surgical workshop in Deschapelles, Haiti, working with fellow IVUmed volunteers to build sustainable urology capacity there. 

  Dr. Edelstein answered a few questions regarding his experiences volunteering with IVUmed and his insights on the benefits of educational and humanitarian medical service for the givers and receivers:


1. What has kept you inspired to volunteer in Haiti and work with IVUmed?  I first went to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, because I felt a very strong need to help out in any way that I could.  I really didn’t know what to expect, but it ended up being a very productive trip.  While there, I felt that I had to return. The need for urologic services in Haiti is profound, and the strength and resourcefulness of the Haitian people is very inspiring. I had always wanted to work with IVU due to its experience, urologic focus, and commitment to teaching, and I have been lucky enough to do so in the years since.

2.  What have been the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of your IVUmed service so far?  The most rewarding aspect to me is having the opportunity to work with Haitian health care professionals. The trip gives an excellent opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences. There are many challenges, of course, but finding solutions together can be a great part of the experience. 

3.  What insights can you share with other medical professionals considering working with IVUmed or other humanitarian organizations?  The opportunity to serve outside of the United States is a uniquely challenging and deeply satisfying experience. Many of the things that we take for granted daily don’t exist in rural Haiti, and often new ways must be found to solve problems using the local resources. The depth of knowledge and resources that IVU has to work with is inspiring and reassuring on these trips.

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Understanding International Volunteerism – Focus in Haiti

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, there was an influx of medical volunteers and desire to help in such a traumatic event. While this displays admirable initiative, there are many factors that go into international medical volunteerism outside of the desire to do good work that require experience and understanding of local culture.  In one study, co-authored by Richard Gosselin of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, almost two-thirds of the surgeons who volunteered in Haiti had no prior disaster experience.

When a nation has declared a natural disaster, “disaster relief” is primarily in the first 24 to 72 hours following the event. In this situation, outside aid must be completely independent of local resources; providing their own medicines, staff, food, water, sometimes electricity and anything else needed to perform their role. The troubled area cannot be depended on or depleted of remaining resources when providing assistance. Many medical volunteers do not recognize or have the capacity to provide these resources when traveling to provide assistance; military and governmental organizations, primarily, are able to.

As days, weeks and months go by, the focus is on humanitarian aid. Many organizations will have developed a base for care and semi-permanent facilities. At this point, medical volunteers are able to connect and work with a well-experienced and community-integrated group to efficiently provide care. In this setting, doctors are able to use resources immediately available to them to perform surgery in a safe and effective way for the nation in need.

 With social media and news outlets, charitable organizations and medical providers have expressed the consequences of “inexperienced” medical volunteers. Questions we need to ask ourselves are:

When are we doing more harm than good?

Is this the best use of our skills and time?

How can we avoid recreating the wheel?

What can I learn before going into a culture completely different from my own?

Whether you are a community volunteer or a volunteer with a specific skill set, it is crucial to consider these questions when helping in disaster relief or humanitarian aid.


In the coming months, IVUmed is performing two surgical workshops in Haiti, one in Pignon and one in Deschapelles. Both the leaders and many of the volunteers going on these trips have been at least once a year for the past two years. This has given us the opportunity to develop relationships and partner with other organizations, such as Project Haiti and well established hospitals in the region.


To hear an informative podcast on the consequences of volunteering, please click here: The Tragic Consequences of Crisis Volunteering, by Amy Costello.

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Haiti, June 2012

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Mother’s Day 2012

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IVUmed is committed to making quality urological care available to people worldwide.