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Project New Hope
Providing Free Surgery to Children in Need for Over 18 Years!
At least once a year, anesthesiologists, nurses, technicians, and plastic surgeons in Reno, NV, converge upon the surgical suites at Saint Mary’s to participate in a full-day session of the annual Project New Hope program. In line with Saint Mary’s mission to go well beyond by supporting targeted community outreach initiatives, Project New Hope is a unique collaboration that provides no-cost surgery to correct physical abnormalities in children whose families may not be able to afford surgery or whose insurance plans may not cover a particular procedure.
If you would like more information about Project New Hope, or if you are ready to meet with Dr. Virden to discuss cosmetic surgery, request a consultation online now. You can also schedule an appointment by calling (775) 348-9798.
About the Foundation
Founded in 1997, Project New Hope is the brainchild of Dr. Charles Virden, along with Saint Mary’s nurses Kit Landis, perioperative services manager, and Chris Loar, clinical coordinator, both of whom have a longstanding passion for addressing the special needs of pediatric patients. “When Project New Hope first began,” says Landis, “the focus was primarily on plastic surgery cases, such as repairing cleft lips and palates. Over the years, we have expanded our scope to include other focus areas—urology, oral surgery, ophthalmology, and orthopedics—and have been able to help other children whose conditions, if left untouched, may provoke teasing or embarrassment later in life.”
For example, one previous Project New Hope patient needed plastic surgery to repair a defect to her nose. According to the patient’s family, prior to the surgery the patient had few close friends and did poorly in school. After her surgical procedure through Project New Hope, the patient returned to school, proud of her looks and full of renewed self-esteem. After one year, she was also getting straight A’s, had a boyfriend, and, as her family claims, “couldn’t keep up with her social calendar.”
A child’s eligibility for Project New Hope is determined through a wide-reaching referral process. Teachers, school nurses, caseworkers, clinic staff, the Health Department, physicians, and others have the ability to suggest potential surgery candidates by submitting a Project New Hope referral form available through Landis’ office. Evaluated against a number of different criteria, including financial hardship and the type of surgery requested, candidates who are eventually selected for a procedure must also undergo a physical examination to determine if they are healthy enough for the proposed surgery.
“Volunteerism is the heart and soul of Project New Hope,” says Landis. “In addition to the doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff directly involved in the surgeries, non-clinical volunteers handle a variety of other important tasks, such as patient registration, patient transport, and family support.” In fact, since its inception, Project New Hope volunteers have contributed over 2,000 hours of personal time to the program, and the program has provided free surgery to over 150 children. Landis’ sons, Austin and Max, both students and members of the boys’ baseball team at Galena High School, are also active volunteers with Project New Hope. Max, Landis’ oldest, has been volunteering with the program for four years. Austin, the younger son, has been helping the program for nearly eight years, since the age of eleven. Some of Austin’s junior-varsity teammates, Luke Hess and Nolan Young, have been participating in the annual event. Three of these young men share a common goal: to become physicians. Young, a pitcher for this High School team, has aspirations to become a specialty physician despite a lifelong affliction with cerebral palsy, which has prevented full use of his right arm. Austin Landis, influenced by his involvement with Project New Hope, has expressed a desire to become a pediatrician. Other members of the Galena High School boys’ baseball team have been volunteering for several years supported by varsity coach Gary McNamara, whose family regularly donated teddy bears to local hospitals when he was younger.
Although 2009 was designated as the official twelfth anniversary of the program, Project New Hope surgeries occur regularly throughout the year. “Our surgeons and anesthesiologists routinely contribute free surgeries to needy pediatric patients, and many other volunteers spend extra time working in the hospital or contributing to their communities,” says Landis. “Project New Hope isn’t just about one day of free surgery; it is a formal recognition of the ongoing support that this program provides to children in need.”