About Dr. Christine Novak

Dr. Christine Novak focuses her clinical practice as a physical therapist and research with the Toronto Western Hospital and Rehabilitation Institute on upper extremity nerve and musculoskeletal pathologies. Her overall goal is to improve hand care and patient outcomes through education, research, and knowledge translation. Through her involvement with the American Association for Hand Surgery, Dr. Novak discovered the work of the Guatemala Healing Hands Foundation in 2011 and was encouraged to volunteer with its missions.

The Guatemala Healing Hands Foundation

The Guatemala Healing Hands Foundation (GHHF) began as a subsidiary of the 2004 Vargas International Hand Therapy Teaching Award, established by the American Association for Hand Surgery. It is dedicated to the improvement of healthcare quality and accessibility in Guatemala through education, surgery, and therapy. The 12-day missions include both medical and non-and aid in the delivery of direct clinical care, educational conferences and workshops, and community development initiatives. In addition to the mission work, the GHHF can facilitate transport to the USA for extreme patient cases and will cover all costs. The Foundation strives to create a cross-cultural educational experience between North American and Guatemala in which local providers are empowered to provide specialized care to their residents, and in turn educating the North American team with first-hand knowledge about the barriers and infrastructural challenges to medical care delivery. The exchange of sustainable health care and global awareness is essential for generating knowledge and support.

Dr. Novak focuses her time in Guatemala on patient hand care, education, and community outreach. A conference is held in collaboration for the Guatemala Society for Hand Surgery (GSHS) at which she presents on a variety of hand surgeries and therapy-related topics. The GSHS has also aligned itself with the Moore Foundation and Pediatric Hospital to provide hand surgery and therapy. Dr. Novak assists in screening patients for surgery, as well as assisting in pre-operative and post-operative care. Additionally, she helps with village outreach projects such as building stoves and latrines, establishing scholarships for students to continue their studies, and assisting in building additional space at the community scho