On May 26th we lost a dear friend, Carl Unsicker, MD, a VISTA Staffing Solutions medical director since our founding in 1990. Carl was 68 and a board certified orthopedic surgeon. Our hearts go out to his wife, Linda, and their children and grandchildren.
Carl was a driving force in our “pick up the phone and work things out” philosophy and was always willing to step in as coach, sounding board, expert, or wise friend. He was instrumental in building our credentials verification process, our peer review and QA programs, and our strong professional liability insurance offering. He was a down to earth, approachable, no-nonsense man.
It was only natural that, when Carl retired from full-time practice in 1998, he would try his hand at locum tenens. He went on to work in Gallup, NM, Roosevelt, UT, Marshalltown, IA, High Point, NC, and Ketchikan, Anchorage, Kodiak, and Juneau, AK. He once said the key to enjoying locum tenens is understanding that, “Expectations are your enemy—flexibility is your friend.”
In 2000, Carl and Linda began regular medical missions to Africa. They settled into an enviable routine, working several short locum tenens assignments in Alaska between semi-annual trips to Sengerema Hospital in Tanzania. Linda is a certified orthopedic tech who “speaks Swahili better than I do,” according to Carl. She assisted in the OR, helped with PT, and managed the long queues of patients waiting for surgery.
Most of the surgeries performed were to correct birth defects, like club feet, in children. Carl said they didn’t go there to save the world, “Taking care of one child at a time is enough for us.”
When time permitted, they operated on adults and handled trauma cases. When they first visited Sengerema Hospital there were very few orthopedic surgery instruments, particularly for adult surgeries. On every subsequent visit they brought as much equipment as they could carry.
VISTA will be making a donation to Sengerema Hospital in Carl’s memory and Linda’s honor. If you would like to join us, please send your donations to Linda Unsicker, c/o Lori Douglas, VISTA Staffing Solutions, 275 East 200 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. The facility is in a very rural area and donations will have to be handled personally by Linda to ensure that the funds get to the right place.
If you are an orthopedic surgeon who would like to volunteer to help fill the big shoes Carl left behind in Tanzania, please contact Lori Douglas, VISTA VP of Operations, at 800-366-1884. Although Carl focused on pediatrics, this is not required. The need spans all ages.
For more information about Carl and his work, read his profile on our Physician Stories page.
Carl and Linda Unsicker care for a child at Sengerema Hospital in Tanzania.