Tri Cities Doctor Honored For Healing Bones Around The Globe
Lew Zirkle, a doctor in Richland, Washington, works with thousands of surgeons all over the world to treat injuries in poor or war-ravaged countries.
He will receive the U.S. Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service—the highest honor the Defense department gives to a non-career civilian—by Secretary James Mattis later this month.
When he was a young medical student, doctor Lew Zirkle was drafted to serve in Vietnam. An experience that changed his life was when he treated a 10-year-old Vietnamese boy. The child had napalm burns to his knee and couldn’t bend his leg or walk.
“He and I worked together,” Zirkle said. “He never understood complete English, but we had this bond, because I had to adjust the weights on his traction to pull his leg straight so he could walk. And finally it happened.”
After months, when he was well enough to go home, Zirkle remembers watching the boy and his father walk away together.
“I realized the importance was treating all people,”n he said. “And therefore I became more enthusiastic about treating people who don’t have a chance. People who have to accept what they get.”
Since then, Zirkle has built a nonprofit, called SIGN Fracture Care. It makes medical implants—stainless steel rods—that can speed the healing of broken bones. The nearly 50-person non-profit manufactures the rod-shaped implants, called nails in Richland.
SIGN trains surgeons from all over the globe and supplies them with the implants and the tools to use them. They treat people injured in war and many in motorcycle accidents—which are really common in the developing world.
Zirkle spends much of each year traveling to conflict zones like South Sudan and Iraq.
“If you see the SIGN surgeons talk with each other, you see people from countries that don’t have good relationships with each other,” he said. “But the surgeons do, they’re above all that.”
Zirkle said since 1999, his team has trained thousands of surgeons and made more than 200,000 surgeries possible.
Copyright 2018 Northwest News Network
Inland NW health care providers reassess how they provide care following 2 years of the COVID pandemic Listen NWPB’s Rachel Sun reports on how Inland NW health care providers have… Continue Reading Inland NW Health Care Providers Reassess After 2-Year Anniversary of COVID
The pandemic has taken a massive toll on people’s mental health. But a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what many of us are seeing and feeling in our own lives: The impact has been particularly devastating for parents and unpaid caregivers of adults. Continue Reading Unpaid Caregivers Were Already Struggling. It’s Only Gotten Worse During The Pandemic
Everyone involved even tangentially in health care today is consumed by the coronavirus pandemic, as they should be. But the pandemic is accelerating a problem that used to be front and center in health circles: the impending insolvency of Medicare. Continue Reading Another Problem On The Health Horizon: Medicare Is Running Out Of Money