La Cañada Flintridge resident Armond Kotikian, DDS, MD, is used to plying his trade as an oral maxillofacial surgeon in the well-equipped surgical theaters of Glendale Adventist and Glendale Memorial hospitals. But he got a lesson in improvisation while performing pro bono surgeries in Armenia this past summer.
In his first-person account, “Tools of the Trade Across Borders,” an article published online at www.hetq.am, Kotikian describes the hospital in the Armenian province of Karabagh in which he performed dozens of surgeries over a five-day period:
“There was no air conditioning in the hospital and the temperature would reach the low 90s at noon. The nurses had special sterile instruments to dab our foreheads so we wouldn’t contaminate the field with our sweat. The hospital water occasionally ran out, and the operating nurses had to rinse our arms and hands with small buckets of water after we scrubbed. I was operating with instruments I thought didn't exist anymore. Despite all this, things went as smoothly as they do in our pampered operating rooms in the United States.”