Surgical Trip FAQs

What will CSI’s return to travel look like?

While CSI’s international travel is paused, we continue to innovate and plan for a safe return to travel. We remain committed to working collaboratively with our partners to envision, create and test new models of service delivery that will allow our teams to return to partner sites. CSI team members look forward to the time we can travel again.

The CSI Mexico team – led by Lora Koppel, R.N., and Drs. Brianne Roby, Paul Melchert and Craig Smith – has developed a model that combines extensive telehealth prescreening and reduced team size. Eliminating the traditional crowded screening day and limiting close contacts will allow CSI to implement essential COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies. Additionally, we have collaborated with our partners at St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic, Voluntariado CIMA and Hospital CIMA Hermosillo to establish a strong preoperative testing, isolation and PPE protocol for safe surgeries. When our partners are ready for us to return, we will have the plans in place to ensure safe care for children and their families. 

The Medical and Mission Committee continues to work with our partners in Liberia, Ethiopia and Tanzania to develop new team models, including behind-the-scenes support to local teams as they refine their independent clinical offerings. Many of our partners have mastered previous operative techniques, and we are exploring “next-level” focused surgical trips centered on a small number of highly complex cases and one-on-one teaching.    

To mitigate risk, we plan to reduce the typical CSI surgical team size as well as the total number of cases we undertake during each trip. These smaller teams will be composed of volunteers with strong site-specific experience. Team members will be vaccinated against COVID-19 and will be flexible in filling multiple team roles (such as medical records and logistics) which will allow us to be nimble and efficient. We will be adding more PPE, testing measures and supplies to our packing lists. To avoid large screening days that would encourage the congregation of larger groups of people, we will work with our partners in a consultation role, relying on them to screen and schedule patients before our arrival.

CSI volunteers scheduled for canceled trips will be given priority once we resume a more “business as usual” schedule and model of operation.

When CSI decides it is safe to travel, how will you begin recruiting volunteers? 

Our top priority is the health, safety and well-being of our volunteers, in-country partners and patients. When making the decision to recruit volunteers for a trip, we want to have a high degree of confidence that a trip will proceed. We know volunteers take significant time away from work and family responsibilities to travel with us, and we understand how disruptive trip cancellations can be. 

When we pilot smaller team models, we will staff teams with CSI volunteers who have strong site-specific experience. Our recruiters for each area will contact their list of volunteers who meet this criteria.

How can I stay involved when CSI is not traveling?

CSI is committed to supporting our country partners even when we can’t travel. We are also working hard to strengthen our trip planning and execution to improve our processes and be ready to travel just as soon as it’s safe to do so. With that in mind, there are several ways you can help. If you are interested, please contact mission operations manager Lisa Masterson at

  • CSI is creating discipline-specific work groups to focus on things like volunteer recruitment and training, trip packing and supplies, and partner in-person and online education. Join a CSI work group to help improve the delivery of our mission.
  • CSI is building our library of in-person and online educational resources and speakers. Share your input and expertise. Do you have lectures and/or other education and training ideas? Be a part of the team that is developing training and collaboration best-practices by discipline.  
  • We want to provide supply-chain support to our partners even when we’re not traveling. Help us sort medical supplies, source specific requests for equipment and prepare shipments.
  • Help CSI as we develop new ways of engaging our volunteers and donors. CSI will not hold its annual gala on March 26, 2022. Email Jen Nagorski at if you’d like to help.

When we do travel again, what are the expenses trip volunteers are responsible for before and during a trip?

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, CSI is proud to be able to underwrite the vast majority of trip expenses for trip volunteers. The expenses trip volunteers are responsible for include:

  • Pre-trip expenses:
    • $500 team fee
    • NEW: VISA application fee (Visas are needed for Ethiopia, Liberia and Tanzania). CSI will not be submitting team members’ Visa applications and paying the fee. Team members will be responsible for applying for the Visa in time for the trip. CSI will help with information needed for the application and how to apply.
      • Ethiopia: $52 for a 30-day single entry Visa and $72 for a 90-day single entry Visa
      • Liberia: $70 for a single entry one- to three-month Visa
      • Tanzania: $50 for a single entry 90-day Visa
  • Expenses on the trip:
    • Dinner each night. We estimate $10-$15 per meal.
    • Rest day activity. The cost can range from $50 to $100 depending on the activity and the number of team members participating.
    • Spending money for souvenirs.

What does my team fee cover?

The total cost per team member to travel with CSI varies by trip, but generally ranges between $2,500-$4,500. Your $500 team fee covers a small portion of the expenses we incur for your flight, ground transportation, lodging and two meals per day (breakfast and lunch). Please note that there is a fee to deviate from the standard itinerary selected for a given trip. Talk to the CSI office to get more information before proceeding with any travel plans. 

Will I need a COVID-19 vaccination to travel?

When traveling with CSI, volunteers need to see a travel clinic to be advised on immunizations and medications needed for the trip. CSI does require a COVID-19 vaccination to travel with us.

Do team members help with pre-trip and post-trip responsibilities?

Each trip has pre- and post-trip responsibilities. These duties are listed in the job descriptions and will be communicated to team members. Here are a few:

  • Packing supplies and equipment
  • Preparing medical charts
  • Screening day planning
  • Patient records
  • Evaluations/survey