Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Spokane physician makes ‘house call’ in Guatemala
the Inland Register
(From the July 5, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)
When Sister Immaculata Burke learned that Dr. Rob Rutherford would be in Guatemala last
month, she quickly made arrangements for him to examine a little girl named Sonja, whom she had
been concerned with for some time. The six-year-old Mayan Indian girl had never been able to
walk due to some puzzling problems.
Rob and Dianne Rutherford are a doctor and nurse team from Spokane who recently decided
to improve their communicative skills at a Spanish Language School in Antigua, Guatemala. Rob
is an orthopedic surgeon who has practiced in Spokane for over 25 years. This has given him a
technical background and base of experience that is difficult to find in Guatemala.
After learning that he would be in Guatemala, Sister Immaculata worked through the
Spokane Diocese Guatemala Commission to arrange for a time and place for Dr. Rutherford to
Sister Immaculata arranged for Sonja to be transported from her village of Sololá
to the Spokane Mission Clinic in Novillero. Meanwhile, the Rutherfords used their newly-
acquired language skills to navigate the Guatemalan bus system, an experience in itself.
Dr. Rutherford’s diagnosis revealed that Sonja has a dislocated hip and cerebral palsy.
He was able to recommend some further tests and physical therapy that may help her in the
future. If the tests reveal that she would benefit from surgery, he would be available to
perform the needed operations.
Having completed their language school adventure, Rob and Dianne Rutherford are now
better equipped to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients when they return to Guatemala.
And they probably will.
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