June 30, 2010

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Recognizing the need to increase the number of burn specialists in Mexico, the Mexican Health Ministry has partnered with Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Northern California and the UC Davis Health System to establish a burn fellowship program for physicians from Mexico.

Amilcar Cardona, M.D. and Fernando Guerrero, M.D., will be the first participants in the 12-month fellowship program that will begin July 1, 2010. Funding for the two fellowships will be provided by Mexico's Health Ministry. It is expected that two physicians from Mexico will participate in the fellowship program each year.

"When a tragedy strikes, such as the day care fire in Hermosillo, Mexico, there really is just one question to ask, ‘How can we help?,'" said Margaret Bryan, administrator at Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Northern California.

"Our focus quickly turned to how the expertise and experience that have allowed us to build a premiere pediatric burn program would enable us to advance burn care in other regions through continuing education," said Bryan. "Within weeks we were engaged in discussions with the Mexican Health Ministry. Our talks focused on the long-term contributions that Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Northern California could make to improve access to burn care for children in Mexico."

Mexico's First Lady Supports Program

Seeds for the burn fellowship were planted when Margarita Zavala, First Lady of Mexico, came to Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Northern California in July 2009 to visit with patients and parents affected by the Hermosillo day care fire. Ms. Zavala and officials from the Health Ministry in Mexico, Shriners Hospitals for Children®, and representatives from the UC Davis Health System then met to discuss the need to train burn surgeons in Mexico.

"Ms. Zavala immediately recognized the opportunity to enhance the delivery of burn care in Mexico. Her understanding of the issues set in motion the process to enhance burn care education," said Bryan. "Ultimately, Dr. Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos, Mexico's Minister of Health, and Dr. Luis Guillermo Ibarra, the Director General of Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitacion, provided the leadership that turned this vision into a reality."

Once the surgeons finish their fellowship program in 2011, they will become part of the permanent staff of the newly created National Center for Burn Victims, the first institution of its class in Mexico, fully dedicated to research, training of personnel, and care of those who sustain acute burns in Mexico.

David Greenhalgh, M.D., Tina Palmieri, M.D., and Pirko Maguina, M.D., who lead burn and plastic surgery programs at Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Northern California and UC Davis Medical Center, will oversee the curriculum for the fellowship program.

The fellowship training will parallel fellowship training of American burn surgeons, and will include:

  • Acute resuscitation and management of burn patients in the burn ICU
  • Surgical management of acute burns, rehabilitation, nutrition and therapy for burn patients
  • Reconstructive surgery for burn survivors
  • Research studies – each fellow is expected to participate in clinical research, submit abstracts and present at international meetings.

"The idea that we can come together as a medical community to share our expertise and experience with doctors from Mexico is a simple concept with enormous benefits," said Dr. Greenhalgh, chief of burn surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Northern California and director of the burn fellowship program.