Magic of Rotary shines through in Colombia
Popayán Rotarians visit Court Rand in the hospital after he injured his knee in a motorcycle accident. Photo courtesy of Brad Jett
When the son of a Rotarian from New Hampshire, USA, took a spill on his motorcycle in Colombia, all it took was an e-mail and a few phone calls to bring the "magic of Rotary" to life.
"My son called me and said, 'Mom, you won’t believe who just walked in the door: a doctor from Rotary,'" recalls Sherry Rand, a member of the Rotary Club of Hampton. "Within minutes, I was on the phone with the doctor, who assured me she would look after my boy."
Sherry's son, Court, was on a motorcycle adventure with a friend when he skidded off the road to avoid another vehicle in Popayán, Colombia, breaking a bone under his kneecap. He was taken to San José University Hospital, but neither he nor his friend, a native of France, spoke any Spanish, and both were unfamiliar with the local health care system.
But Sherry had told her son before he left to remember Rotary if he ever got into trouble. From the hospital, Court e-mailed his mom, who set off a series of phone calls connecting Brad Jett, governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire), with Greg Franks, assistant manager of the Club and District Support -- Pan America Department at RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. Franks made a flurry of calls until he was able to reach Juan Pablo Castrillón Fossi, president of the Rotary Club of Popayán, Cauca, who assured him that he would find help.
Not long after, Astrid Muñoz Ordóñez, a surgeon and member of the Popayán club who speaks English, visited Court in the hospital and began to coordinate his medical care. Other Popayán Rotarians also visited Court. District Governor Alfredo López Campo and his daughter Martha, a lawyer, tackled the paperwork and put down a deposit to allow surgery to begin after Court was transferred to Centro Médico Imbanaco Hospital in Cali.
"He is absolutely astonished at the response he's received," says Sherry, who notes that the whole experience has made her son want to become a Rotarian.
"It's the magic of Rotary," says Brad. "From the time I called Greg Franks until the time a doctor was standing in his room was less than two hours."
Court is now recuperating from having a plate and screw inserted in his tibia. Within a few days of the surgery, he was moving with the aid of a walker, and is now on crutches.
Court's father procured a letter of travel from the U.S. State Department that helped ensure that Court's insurance would ultimately pay for his care. In the meantime, Court has put through charges on his credit card to pay back local Rotarians while he waits for reimbursement from his insurance.
"He's always heard me talking about Rotary. Now he's seen what it can do," Sherry says. "Rotary is an incredible community, a family. The thing I love about Rotarians is they have a soft heart -- that's why they are in it."