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Lepird returning to Mexico to help poor – Plans to depart first weekend in January

By Staff | Dec 12, 2007

ESTHERVILLE–A lot of people celebrate the New Year by making a resolution or taking a cruise. For Dr. Richard Lepird of Estherville, celebrating the New Year takes on a whole different meaning.

The first weekend in January, Dr. Lepird will depart for Mexico where he will again provide medical care for people who can’t afford it. They’ll be getting the best of care, too, at least from Dr. Lepird, a podiatric surgeon who invented the procedure of metatarsis reductis, a procedure for straightening the foot in patients with club foot.

This is the third year Dr. Lepird has volunteered his services to Liga, or The Flying Doctors of Mercy. He took four trips to Mexico last year.

Members pay $200 to help pay for fuel for one trip each month to Mexico to volunteer their services.

It’s a grueling schedule. Dr. Lepird and a medical team of 90-100 people will leave on a Friday and work the rest of the day then Saturday and Sunday. Dr. Lepird will work in the Mexican state of Sinaloe at El Forte or San Blass. A third clinic is located at El Corizzo.

Team members sleep in dormitories above the clinic. They have learned to avoid the drinking water because many of the lead water pipes have been in the ground for over a century. Water sources are not controlled, either, as they are in the United States. “You don’t even brush your teeth with the water that comes out of the tap,” Dr. Lepird said.

LIGA specialists include cardiologists, urologists, neurologists, and orthopedic surgeons. “It’s a broad gamut of specialists that volunteer,” Dr. Lepird said. The team also includes interpreters, pharmacists, nurses, operating room technicians, and pilots who fly the rest of the volunteers deep into Mexico.

“It’s a whole lot of coordinated effort,” Dr. Lepird said.

It needs to be. Medical specialists are announced in the local media in advance so often the clinics are flooded with patients needing doctors in those areas.

Many of the illnesses that Dr. Lepird treats include congenital deformities. He said he has seen more problems with club foot than at any time during his practice in the United States. He also observes poor prenatal and postnatal care and general medical neglect.