On September 17, 2019, around 3 a.m. Eastern Time, a few dozen physicians, architects, and others connected to New York’s Mount Sinai Health System woke up, turned on their computers and phones, and tuned in to a livestream of a hernia-repair surgery in the rural village of Kyabirwa, Uganda. It was the first procedure taking place at a new ambulatory surgery center there. Designed by Kliment Halsband Architects (KHA), the $1.35 million project makes use of technology and design to provide outpatient care to residents of the small East African town near the Nile River.
For much of his career, Mount Sinai’s surgeon- in-chief, Dr. Michael Marin, has been interested in problems with the distribution of surgical care around the world, and particularly in remote communities and developing countries. “Five billion people on our planet can’t get an appendix removed if they develop acute appendicitis, or can’t get a hernia fixed,” he explains. “These are relatively simple operations that we take for granted in our country.” In August 2014, the physician found a donor willing to fund the construction of a surgical center in Africa. He began to discuss broad concepts for such a facility with his son, a designer at KHA in New York. Marin met with founding partner Frances Halsband, who established the firm in 1972 with her husband, the late Robert Kliment. Mount Sinai engaged KHA, and the project broke ground in Kyabirwa in early 2017, officially opening in September of this year.