Le Cayes, Haiti (WKBW) - "Hope For Tomorrow" are three words that could hold so many meanings to different people. For a group of dedicated Western New York doctors, it means helping those who have been suffering in silence.
"The Foundation has been such for 20 years. During that period of time, we've gone to many countries around the world doing surgeries," Plastic Surgeon and Foundation Chairman Dr. Jeffrey Meilman said.
This year, the group went to a country that has been silenced by poverty and natural disaster.
"We went on this trip to help to provide medical care for to Les Cayes, Haiti that was devastated by the earthquake," Vein Specialist Dr. Hratch Karamanoukian said.
Dr. Jeffrey Meilman is a plastic surgeon and Chairman of the foundation. Dr. Hratch Karamanoukian is a vein specialist who is also a leader in the organization. Colleagues, medical students and Journalist Stan Coleman joined the doctors. Coleman documented their four-day stay in this tattered city.
"The hospital services about one million people. We've been told that they have not had a full time surgeon on staff for seven years so there is a back log of surgical cases," Dr. Meilman said.
They worked 15 hours a day at the Immaculate Conception Public Hospital performing surgeries of all kind.
"The first day, there were 300 to 400 people outside the clinic. They were waiting for a day and a half. They were almost to the point of rioting because they wanted to go first," Dr. Karamanoukian said.
Many people had been coping with the illnesses and intolerable pain for years.
"If this happened in the United States the person would have been in the operating room within hours. It is considered a surgical emergency," Dr. Karamanoukian said.
The doctors were not the only caregivers on the trip. Students from Daemon College and D'Youville College jumped on board, getting the experience of a lifetime.
"It was amazing, definitely not what I expected. I hope that I had an impact as everyone had on me," Health Science Student Jessica Panepento said.
Those on the trip said their days of work didn't even put a dent in the number of people who are in need of medical attention. They did leave behind something important for the Haitian people.
Doctor Karamanoukian trained one of the local medical students Dr. Jean Yves Glauv to perform surgery so he could continue to heal, long after the group was gone.
"I've learned so many things from him. I will be able to do it myself," Dr. Glauv said.
The doctors said the main goal of the foundation is to teach Americans the importance of giving, while also giving the Haitian people "Hope For Tomorrow".