From the

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 examine Sonja.

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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