Dane Co. doctors trapped in Honduras hoping to be home soon

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Almost a dozen doctors stuck in Honduras, including four from Dane County, could be heading home this week.

On Saturday, the 11 doctors had no idea when they would get home.

"It's just been one frustration after another," said Kay Weeden, a clinic organizer trapped in the country.

However on Monday, things started to change.

"We're all pretty ecstatic about the fact that we're going to be leaving the country for good old USA," said Stan Schooler, a doctor from Indiana.

The doctors were in Honduras with the Hackett Hemwall Patterson Foundation, providing much-needed healthcare to Honduran citizens. However, these 11 got stranded when the Honduran government closed its borders due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"We've had several flights cancelled, and we've had our hopes up and seen them cancelled," Schooler said.

On Sunday, the group finally heard from the U.S. Embassy.

"They were collecting names and that they were going to help us get out," said Catherine James, a doctor from Madison.

However, the doctors were still feeling a lot of uncertainty about the embassy's promise Monday morning.

"We had no idea what day that might be or where we might be going," James explained.

On Monday, in what Weeden called an "unexpected stroke of luck," Schooler and the rest of the group managed to get in touch with a United Airlines representative and get some answers.

The doctors got tickets for a flight out of Honduras on Thursday heading to Houston. James and Schooler will then go on to Chicago.

Many flights out of Honduras have been cancelled in the last two weeks, but Schooler and James said this time, they are optimistic.

"We're looking forward to getting home, we want to say thank you to everyone who's worked on our behalf," James said.

James explained that they have seen a show of support from people in Honduras and their colleagues back in the U.S., who have helped call elected officials' offices to bring attention to the doctors' situation.

James and Schooler also said it has been difficult to watch their colleagues in the U.S. struggle to keep up with the coronavirus outbreak, and they are ready to help.

"I intend on getting home and trying to relieve some of the pressure from my colleagues who have been doing an excellent job," James said.

Weeden said that the doctors will be following CDC guidelines when they get back home. They will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before they can get back to work.

NBC15 has been following this story and will continue to provide updates online and in our newscasts until the doctors are safely home.