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ACS News

American College of Surgeons Honors Five Members with Surgical Humanitarian and Volunteerism Awards

October 19, 2022

SAN DIEGO: Five surgeons have received the 2022 American College of Surgeons (ACS)/Pfizer Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Awards in recognition of their selfless efforts as volunteer surgeons who provide care to medically underserved patients.

The extraordinary contributions of these five award recipients were recognized at the ACS Clinical Congress 2022 during the annual Board of Governors reception and dinner last night. The awards are determined by the ACS Board of Governors Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Awards Workgroup and are administered through the ACS Operation Giving Back program.

The ACS/Pfizer Academic Global Surgeon Award were presented to James Allen Brown, MD, FACS, a general surgeon in Johns Island, South Carolina, for his nearly two decades of work providing surgical education and training to physicians in Cameroon.

During his time as a United States Navy surgeon and as a private practitioner, Dr. Brown joined several medical mission trips to Latin America, Asia, and Africa. In 2003, he traveled to Northern Cameroon for 2 and 1/2 weeks, where he witnessed an overwhelming lack of surgical services and determined surgical training could assist in addressing these gaps. In 2008, Dr. Brown and his wife moved to Cameroon full time, partnering with the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS), a nonprofit dedicated to high quality surgical training in Africa.

Dr. Brown’s contributions to academic surgery in Cameroon, through his work at Mbingo Baptist Hospital, have been comprehensive and transformative. Among his achievements, he initiated a Residency Review Committee comprised of all the PAACS training program directors, the chief hospital administrator, senior nursing supervisor, the head chaplain, and the chief residents from each program.

Throughout his time in Cameroon, Dr. Brown has advocated for improving surgical resident education. He has partnered with numerous international university programs to establish partnerships to receive residents and faculty for global surgery rotations and research; worked to get the hospital accreditation from regional surgical societies such as the College of Surgeons for East, Central, and Southern Africa; and established collaborative relationships with national surgeons, hospitals, and medical schools to share resources, enhance consultations, and provide training.

Eid B. Mustafa, MD, FACS, received the ACS/Pfizer International Surgical Volunteerism Award for his more than 30 years of volunteer surgical and medical services to the people of the Palestinian West Bank, in addition to other underserved areas of the Middle East.

Dr. Mustafa was born in the West Bank and received his medical education in Egypt before moving to the United States to perform his residency and fellowship training in plastic and reconstructive surgery. After his training, he relocated to the medically underserved Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was the only practicing plastic and reconstructive surgeon for many years. His international volunteerism began in earnest in 1987, when he met Charles Horton, MD, the founder of Physicians for Peace, who worked with Dr. Mustafa to initiate medical missions to the West Bank the following year.

Most years, Dr. Mustafa traveled to the West Bank for between 10 and 21 days. His initial efforts focused on congenital defects, burn care, and reconstruction from injury. As his missionary work evolved, he recruited a multidisciplinary team aimed at the needs of each individual community, including specialists in urology, orthopaedics, peripheral vascular surgery, off pump cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, and physical therapy. With the advent of minimally invasive surgery during this period, he arranged for equipment and education to be provided in the West Bank to accommodate the growing interest.

Dr. Mustafa has been an international ambassador for the ACS, taking pride in his Fellowship and advancing the ideals of the College. He began teaching the principals of Advanced Trauma Life Support curriculum in the West Bank years ago, at a time when political divisions prevented formal recognition and certification of the course.

Two ACS/Pfizer Resident Surgical Volunteerism Awards were presented this year. The first recipient, Alexis Bowder, MD, a general surgery resident in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, received the award for her 10 years of volunteer work in practice, education, and research, primarily in Haiti.

Dr. Bowder has been involved in global volunteer work since 2012 when she spent six weeks as an interpreter at a primary care clinic in Honduras between her first and second years of medical school. Between her third and fourth years of medical school, she worked for one year at Hopital Universitaire Mirebalais in Haiti, working as a research associate with Harvard Medical School’s Program in Global Surgery and Social Change. As a sub-intern, Dr. Bowder recorded vitals for all surgical patients and removed dressings before rounds. In the operating room, she filled various roles, ranging from circulating to first assisting. Patients seen in the surgical clinic or around the hospital received her phone number and could contact her if they encountered perioperative issues. In addition to working with the Haitian team, she was the liaison for any visiting surgical teams from the United States or internationally. She helped visitors reach the hospital, locate patients to evaluate, and schedule procedures.

As a resident, even with ongoing political strife primarily in the capital of Port-au-Prince, she continued regular trips to Haiti where she shifted the focus of her clinical and education efforts to also include St. Boniface Hospital in Fond-des-Blancs. While continuing to participate in daily rounds and postoperative care of patients, Dr. Bowder began dedicating more time to developing the surgical research skills of the Haitian medical students, residents, and faculty, and supported their clinical research.

The second ACS/Pfizer Resident Surgical Volunteerism Award was given to Matthew Goldshore, MD, MPH, PhD, a general surgery resident in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for his work to help establish the Center for Surgical Health (CSH), which serves as an access point into high-value surgical care for patients who typically rely on the emergency room for treatment.

Dr. Goldshore’s educational background in public health helped him develop the skills necessary to become a key part of the development of CSH, which opened in 2021. CSH has developed a sustainable surgical access model for uninsured Philadelphians that relies on partnerships with community organizations, with several partners throughout the city aiding in expansion of clinical services.

Recognizing that changing the landscape of surgical care for vulnerable populations requires a multipronged approach including improving access to surgical consultation and operative intervention, interdisciplinary public health and clinical outcomes research, and beyond, Dr. Goldshore implemented a one-to-one, patient-centered system which CSH collocates at health centers for assessment of surgical disease. Patients are immediately paired with an interdisciplinary Personal Patient Navigator team composed of medical, nursing, legal, and social work trainees. The team walks the patient throughout their perioperative trajectory, registering them within the Penn Medicine system and submitting medical assistance applications to the state.

Education and advocacy are critical elements of successfully running a practice like CSH, and Dr. Goldshore is intimately involved in supporting each of these pillars. He is a leader in courses at CSH, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and the Measey Surgical Education program funded by a grant he submitted. As an advocate, Dr. Goldshore played an integral role in securing funding for CSH and for key staff though the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Perelman department of surgery.

Ted Sugimoto, MD, FACS, received the ACS/Pfizer Surgical Humanitarian Award for his more than three decades of work providing surgical care to disadvantaged patients in several African countries.

Dr. Sugimoto first became involved in medical volunteerism while he was a medical student, traveling to the Dominican Republic. He and his wife, a registered nurse, chose to pursue full-time work overseas following his general surgical training. In 1989, he began his full-time career in surgical volunteerism in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and has since split his time between the DRC, Kenya, Senegal, and Somalia.

Much of Dr. Sugimoto’s surgical career was spent in the DRC and Somalia, both volatile areas, and he and his family sometimes were in personal peril due to conflicts. For example, in 2002, he was working in eastern DRC when tribal conflicts escalated to war, which led to the massacre of at least 3,000 people from both tribes involved in the conflict. Many patients, hospital workers, and others were killed. Much of the hospital, built in the 1950s, and the surrounding homes and structures were destroyed, including the home where the Sugimoto family had first lived when they moved to the DRC. Throughout these dire situations, Dr. Sugimoto continued to deliver care for locals and those who suffered casualties from the conflict.

Despite the relative stability of Kenya and Senegal, Dr. Sugimoto worked with underserved populations in these areas, often providing care to patients who could not receive care at government hospitals due to their inability to cover the costs.

Editor's Note: Photos of the award winners are available upon request from the ACS Office of Public Information. Email: pressinquiry@facs.org.

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 88,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. "FACS" designates that a surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.