For Dr. Matthew Grunkemeyer, an orthopedic surgeon with Commonwealth Orthopaedics, being able to use his medical training to improve the lives of others both here in the tri-state, as well as in developing countries through organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, is something for which is he very thankful and incredibly humbled.
“I’m a very flawed, regular guy just trying to serve a good God. I want to do the best I can with skills and talents I’ve been given,” said Grunkemeyer.
Not only has Dr. Grunkemeyer been on many medical mission trips himself, but the Cincinnati native also has enthusiastically supported the efforts of others who have made it their life’s work.
Christmas in KenyaOne such person is Dr. Erik Hansen, a pediatric surgeon and friend of Dr. Grunkemeyer from medical school, who has been doing medical mission work in Africa for many years. Dr. Hansen challenged his friend to come and spend some time at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, where western-trained doctors have had a positive impact through sharing their knowledge and skills with the African medical staff. Also, orthopedics was an area of medicine for which Kijabe had a great need.
After his colleagues at Commonwealth graciously agreed to cover for him, Dr. Grunkemeyer; his wife, Sally; and their four children set off on last December for a nine-week trip to Kenya. Located roughly 37 miles north of Nairobi, Kijabe Hospital is a 340-bed non-profit hospital whose reputation is such that people travel great distances just to obtain treatment there.
The things he saw amazed him. Advanced cases of arthritis. Diseases eradicated long ago in the United States, like tuberculosis. Bone fractures that had gone untreated and mended improperly. Young children with bone infections.
The teacher becomes the studentDr. Grunkemeyer was excited that his role at Kijabe, a training hospital, enabled him to collaborate with African colleagues and have a role in their education. “It’s like that old adage: ‘if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime,’” said Dr. Grunkemeyer. “I hope that I left a little bit of a legacy there. Sharing my knowledge and skills is what made the trip for me.”
What Dr. Grunkemeyer soon would realize, however, is the legacy the African doctors left with him.
Just two short months after he returned home from Kenya, Ecuador was rocked by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds and injured thousands. Dr. Grunkemeyer volunteered to help staff a mobile surgical unit set up on the grounds of a badly damaged hospital in Chone, just 90 minutes south of the earthquake’s epicenter.
With no X-rays to assist in surgery, Dr. Grunkemeyer utilized a technique he’d learned from his Kijabe colleagues called the S.I.G.N. IM Nail System, which consists of implanting intramedullary nails, secured by screws, to stabilize long-bone fractures. He says the system is considered “the gold standard for surgical invention in developing nations.”
Now back in the States, Dr. Grunkemeyer is looking forward to helping his patients – both pediatric and adult – return to the level of activity they desire. Specializing in general orthopaedic surgery, particularly with the hip and knee, he tackles everything from fracture care and joint replacement surgery to sports medicine surgery. He also is trained in Makoplasty, robotic-assisted surgery.
He is always accepting new patients at the Mt. Auburn, Edgewood, and Florence offices of Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers. To learn more about Dr. Grunkemeyer or to schedule an appointment, visit www.OrthoCincy.com or call 513-221-BONE (2663).
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