Sunday, August 27, 2023
Fine_prosthetic arm
Los Angeles lawyer Arthur Fine finds a second career bringing hope to those in need.
By Holt Hackney for The National Business Post
December 27, 2021
During a legal career that spanned several decades at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, LLP in Los Angeles, Art Fine knew all about non-profit organizations.
After all, they were his clients.
Little did he know, however, that that experience would prove invaluable in a very successful second career in philanthropy.
Fine, who still practices – but moved to Scottsdale, AZ a decade ago – is a key board member of Aloha Medical Mission (AMM) where he is the coordinator of the non-profit’s surgical missions. As such, he has overseen a dozen surgical missions and improved the lives of many, who otherwise might have mired in a life of despair.
“There are two kinds of philanthropy,” said Fine, who is 52. “There’s donating money, which is a wonderful thing to do, especially for busy professionals. There is also another kind of philanthropy, which is more personal. You give your time to the philanthropic organization. When I was a full-time attorney, I helped various charities, like the Nature Conservancy, when I could. I liked that experience. So, when I started reducing my time at the firm, I looked for a way to become more involved with another cause.”
Fine found that opportunity in guiding AMM and its surgical missions.
Orchestrating such missions is no small feat. First, Fine identifies an area of the world that is grossly underserved from a medical standpoint, since AMM only accepts patients who cannot afford and generally do not have access to surgical care. Fine then makes the connection with the appropriate governmental and medical officials to confirm the trip. Once an agreement is reached, the planning begins – six months of planning.
AMM provides all the necessary operating instruments, operating supplies, anesthesia drugs, and medications. Normally, the team brings in about 1000 lbs. of supplies. If not consumed on the mission, the supplies are generally donated to the hospital facility that hosted the mission.
A typical AMM surgical mission team consists of four surgeons, four anesthesiologists, nurses, dentists (if requested), and a limited number of lay volunteers, who primarily train locals to be prosthetic hand fitters and fit prosthetic hands. Each surgical mission lasts five to 10 operating days. Each day, the AMM team typically performs 20 surgeries.
Fortunately for Fine, he has been able to focus more on the logistics area of the prosthetic hand initiative, which was a passion of his because of his past involvement with the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation.
Fine’s partner in life shares the same committment to AMM
Marjorie Fine, a surgeon for UCLA Medical Center, first heard about AMM from a fellow surgeon and shared the opportunity with her husband. Together, they approached AMM, a non-profit founded in the early 1970s, which at the time were primarily providing free dental services in Hawaii to those who didn’t have access or couldn’t afford dentistry services.
“Margie had slowed down in her practice and she liked the idea of providing surgical services to the developing world,” said Fine. “That’s one of the greatest needs. It’s much more difficult to have a surgical mission than a medical mission. The difference with a surgical team is they can actually fix the problem.
“There were very few organizations that did surgical missions at the time. And those that did tended to be religious-based. It was kind of unspoken that they did the surgeries in exchange for being able to proselytize. Marjorie had no interest in that. She wanted an entity that went in on a nonsectarian basis to provide services to anyone that needed it.”
Fine carrying box
Art Fine loading in more than 1000 lbs of supplies in cambodia
Today, Marjorie and Art are still a dynamic team, completing their last mission in January 2020 in Cambodia. Then the pandemic hit, bringing a halt to their virtuous endeavor.
“That’s been really hard,” said Fine. “Because of COVID, we just haven’t been able to do anything, until now.”
Fine is in the early stages of planning missions to Bhutan and Greece, two countries that have “a relatively high vaccination rate.”
Fine added that his decision to participate in AMM has been transformative.
“Being able to provide these very needed services to people who otherwise don’t have access to them and couldn’t afford them is amazing,” he said. “We’re giving them back their lives in a lot of ways, helping them to become useful members of society.
“Often times, the surgical disease has really prevented them from doing much of anything. They’re in pain and they’re limited in their mobility and they can’t function the way they did before they had the surgical disease. The surgery may affect their lifespan and it definitely affects their quality of their life.”
Fine speaks from experience. He tells a story about an architect in Honduras. “The man had been drafted into the military and worked with the bomb removal squad. He lost both of his hands in an incident. He could not work as an architect because there were two things that were absolutely essential in that country for being an architect. You had to be able to write, and you had to be able to draw. He couldn’t do either.”
“When we fitted him with a prosthetic hand, he immediately started writing, ‘Thank you’ and ‘God be with you’ and all those kinds of things. But he first drew a bird, which was really quite amazing. Then he drew a building in a way that only an architect could draw a building. He had his wife and child with him. They were just carrying on and he was smiling. It was clear that he was going to be able to resume his profession as an architect.”
Fine said the other rewarding aspect was “seeing all these different people work together over a relatively short period of time and form this fantastic team that’s able to accomplish these terrific results to get these people functional again. It is so amazing.”
Copyright © 2021. The National Business Post. All rights reserved.
Holt Hackney is a journalist and publisher from Austin, TX where he owns and operates Hackney Publications, a legal publishing company. His generational writing roots run deep – his father, a former publisher, and his brothers are journalism graduates from the University of Florida. Today, Holt continues to explore the greenbelt enjoying the palpable creative energy that is Austin.