OrthoONE June 10, 2014

Nearly 400 volunteers help make our work at P/SL and RMHC at P/SL better and easier. That's why P/SL so strongly supports a culture of volunteerism among our employees.

Each year we recognize our generous volunteers through our HCA Frist Humanitarian Award nominations. There are three areas, Employees, Volunteers and Physicians. We would like to recognize all three of our Frist Humanitarian Award Nominees today.

Our first award recipient is Dr. Jaren Riley. Dr. Riley is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. One of his specialties is treating young patients with scoliosis. He’s taken this passion to help youngsters outside the traditional office walls. Dr. Riley is currently donating his time and expertise to children in Ecuador.

Dr. Riley’s volunteer journey began in 2010 while working at the Shriner’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. He traveled to Juarez, Mexico four times a year. There he saw hundreds of patients a day. The Shriner’s would then arrange for the patients to come back to the hospital in Salt Lake City for surgery. That first trip was the key that locked in his commitment to volunteering.

In 2013, Dr. Riley traveled to Ecuador, then Peru and he’s returning to Ecuador in June of this year. To him, donating his surgical time and expertise is the greatest experience ever. He says besides parenthood, his time volunteering is the best there is.

Dr. Riley has many challenges to overcome while in Ecuador, but he says it reinvigorates him and gets him so excited to take care of patients.

While in Ecuador, word spreads fast of the American surgical team arriving. Dozens of families come to see the surgeons travelling hundreds of miles. The goal is to provide surgeries that are otherwise unavailable, and also to provide training to the local surgeons.

I would like to read a paragraph that Dr. Riley wrote himself that best describes the experience. “During surgery, I invite the local surgeons to scrub in and participate. We talk about the treatment of scoliosis, the indications for surgery, the planning process for the surgery, and the technical pearls and pitfalls of the surgery. We work, eat, think and learn together, so by the end of an exhausting week, we have established a community of learning, service and friendship. By Friday, we have completed 27 surgeries. There is applause, hugs, and tears as the patients get out of bed to show us how well they are walking, and how tall they are now that their spines are straight. The families are overflowing with thanks, but we are just as grateful for everything we learn from them.”

These trips are seven straight days in which the team works everyday from 7 a.m. to midnight. While it may be physically exhausting, the rewards are infinite.

Dr. Riley, your efforts are changing people’s lives and giving young children with scoliosis a bright new future full of possibilities. Thank you for everything you do and congratulations on being our Frist Humanitarian Physician Award Winner.