There are definite distinctions between ICSF and other like organizations; patient care philosophies being at the top of the list. Explained below are several different areas in which ICSF differs from traditional missions.
TRADITIONAL MISSION: Due to the time constraints that their volunteers operate under, traditional mission organizations frequently are unable to provide adequate post- surgical follow-up to their patients.
ICSF has a GOAL of ensuring that all patients receive postoperative follow-up at the same standard that is required for postoperative patients in the US. ICSF ensures that either ICSF surgeons or other specialists trained in the kinds of surgeries performed are available to provide postoperative care until healing is adequate.
TRADITIONAL MISSION: A well-known and very common problem with some traditional medical missions is that larger numbers of patients come to the mission than can be accommodated and children in need of surgery are turned away. To have hopes built up and then to be turned away can cause great despair and loss of hope for children and their families.
ICSF HAS SOLVED this challenge by dedicating significantly longer periods of time for each mission (more than three weeks, if need be). In the event that not all children can be treated, a follow-up mission is scheduled within a few months and the untreated children are given surgery dates.
TRADITIONAL MISSION: Some of America’s leading cleft palate surgeons take several hours to perform a cleft lip or palate operation, a necessity, in their minds for achieving, optimal results. This level of care is logistically next to impossible in medical missions where larger numbers of patients are treated in relatively short periods of time.
ICSF BELIEVES that quantity should never compromise quality in the performance of surgery and care of patients- and that third world children are no less deserving of the amount of time and level of care enjoyed by American patients. In order to provide this level of care, ICSF allots significantly longer periods of time for its missions, allowing sufficient time and attention to each and every patient.
TRADITIONAL MISSION: Many patients have complicated deformities which require staged treatment over time. Treatment of these kinds of patients is not possible with traditional short-term volunteer medical missions, resulting in these patients being either passed up or turned away.
ICSF ROUTINELY IDENTIFIES PATIENTS requiring staged treatments and returns more than once per year to accomplish these treatments.
TRADITIONAL MISSION: Although volunteer organizations may require doctors to have board certification and other credentials, there is often a lack of screening doctors for adequate experience and/or training in treating conditions such as cleft lip and palate.
ICSF RECRUITS DOCTORS based not only on standard credentials but more importantly, based on their experience level in the types of surgeries to be performed on the proposed volunteer surgical mission.
TRADITIONAL MISSION: Many organizations recruit volunteer surgeons to perform procedures on medical missions that they do not perform routinely in their home practices.
ICSF RECRUITS DOCTORS for surgical missions only if the focus of their full-time practice is the same as the focus of the surgical procedures to be performed on the volunteer mission.
TRADITIONAL MISSION: While other organizations may state physician training as a goal, these efforts are largely confined to:
Large-scale, short-term missions which are not conducive to learning due to the large volume of patients needing treatment in a short period of time.
Educational seminars lacking the hands-on training necessary for the effective learning of surgical techniques and principles.
ICSF TRAINS LOCAL SURGEONS on a one-on-one basis in their own environments. This process is carried out in multiple visits over extended periods of time until the local surgeon’s surgical abilities are observed to be adequate.
"When you can teach the local people to do the work, you're not just treating the patient," Williams said. "You're solving the problem."
— Dr. W. Geoff Williams