SIGN holds open house - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

SIGN holds open house

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- There was an open house Tuesday night at SIGN, which stands for Surgical Implant Generation Network.

 It's an organization founded by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Zirkle that has 5,000 physicians in developing countries who use technology invented by Dr. Zirkle.

 His work helps people who have severe arm and leg fractures.

Tuesday night the public got to see the remodeled facility in Richland, which manufactures the "nails," which are implanted in limbs to prevent future disability.

The facility in Richland has 30 employees and about 30 volunteers.

Dr. Zirkle says he's grateful to the people in the Tri Cities.

"The people of the Tri Cities have supported us from the very beginning. They have supported us financially, they've supported us by volunteering and emotionally, which is a very important aspect for us and we're very grateful," said Dr. Zirkle.

SIGN has 200 programs around the world.

Dr. Zirkle says because they can't go everywhere, they're creating what are called "Centers of Excellence" in developing countries which share the technology and knowledge of SIGN.

In the last year, Dr. Zirkle and his team have traveled to Haiti three times, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania to work with doctors who are involved with SIGN.  And then this Friday, they're leaving for Cambodia and the Philippines.

Dr. Zirkle says if SIGN is needed in Japan, they'll certainly go, but because Japan is an advanced nation, he doesn't think they'll get that call.