In 2018, GOtoGROW sponsored five physicians’ and residents’ trips to Haiti and Nicaragua, within various medical specialties ranging from general surgery to family medicine. Dr. Cheryl Onwuchuruba was our second GOtoGROW Scholarship recipient and was officially awarded her scholarship in February of 2018, then traveled to Haiti on January 5th, 2019. Dr. O is an Obstetrics and Gynecologist physician at Novant Health Randolph OB/GYN– Charlotte.
The GOtoGROW Scholarshp is a program created through a partnership between Spaugh Dameron Tenny, LLC and Bless Back Worldwide in January of 2018. The purpose of the partnership is to send physicians and dentists on medical mission trips to Haiti and Nicaragua. 46% of Haitians are malnourished and only $13 is spent on healthcare per capita each year.
I sat down with Dr. O to ask her questions about her trip to Haiti. Check them out:
How did your skills and the Bless Back team contribute to a sustainable program to help Haiti after you leave?
Even though I was only in Haiti for a week having a larger team allowed for us to see more patients then can typically be seen by the Haitian doctor which allowed for more new patients to be introduced to the clinic. Dr. Evans is the main physician for the clinic at Mission of Hope International. He started this past year and sees patients there year round Monday through Thursday.
Since the clinic continues to run daily even when the teams are not present, the Haitian patients are then able to continue their follow-up with Dr. Evans and continue to treat their chronic illnesses as we bring six months of medications down with January and June teams. Also the clinic has an electronic medical records system so we can follow patients over time and monitor the progression of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and blood pressure.
What theme did you notice during your time in Haiti?
The theme I noted is a sense of general community as well as a desire to help others.
Tell us about a patient that impacted you the most…
I saw about 25 patients the first day and after that probably about 10-15. A patient that impacted me the most was a little 3 year old girl who came to our outreach site. She had rashes throughout her scalp and had been running fevers and suffering from loss of appetite. The lesions were puss filled and painful.
Do you think medical missions can help with physician burnout?
I think medical missions remind you of the reasons why we got into medicine in the first place and because of this they can markedly reduce physician burnout.
About Bless Back Worldwide
Bless Back Worldwide collaborates with trusted local partners in underdeveloped communities to create, implement and support programs that drive sustainable, long term impact. The organization’s initiatives in healthcare, business and education enable its volunteers and those its serves to utilize their God-given skills and resources. The passion of over 850 Bless Back volunteers, who support its work through funding, project planning, and in-country service, is the lifeblood their organization.
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