Spaugh Dameron Tenny, LLC, is seding its second class of GotoGROW Scholarship recipients to serve impoverished communities for one week at a time. After sponsoring five physician missions to Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras in 2018, we are excited to sponsor four more physicians to serve alongside Bless Back Worldwide medical teams.
Our Charlotte based partner, Bless Back Worldwide, enhances healthcare, enriches educations and empowers business by partnering with local organizations in Haiti and Nicaragua.
Attracting and retaining qualified health professionals is a chronic struggle, with as few as six health professionals per 10,000 people, compared to 2.6 healthcare professionals per 1,000 people in the United States.
Roughly 25% of Nicaraguan children suffer from chronic malnutrition, which is one reason why Bless Back Worldwide sends medical and educational teams to this country every year. Bless Back also contributes to economic enhancement for Nicaragua by providing micro loans to help local Nicaraguans establish businesses.
Spaugh Dameron Tenny launched its GOtoGROW Scholarship program in 2018 to give physicians the opportunity to make a difference in a place where medical infrastructure is severely lacking.
This year we chose three Internists and one Gastroenterologist to receive the GOtoGROW scholarships. Get to know these four passionate physicians:
Dr. Meghann Blankenship is an Internist with a focus in diagnosing conditions that affect the adult population. She graduated from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and currently serves at the Lake Norman Community Health Clinic in the Greater Charlotte area. After graduating from the CMC Main Residency program, Dr. Blankenship practiced in rural Georgia for two years before returning to the Charlotte area and has continued to intentionally practice in venues with limited resources and ever-changing demands.
Dr. Blankenship met her husband, Jeffrey Blankenship on a mission trip years ago. Jeff is actually the one who sent in her application for the GOtoGROW scholarship, as he hoped to surprise her with a mission trip as a memorable Christmas gift. "It's been part of us since our early teens. It probably benefits Meghann (and I) more than those who we encounter. We are always humbled and touched by humanity and the friendships developed” says Jeff in his Christmas gift application. He will also be joining his wife on their trip to Haiti.
Dr. Bradley Harrison is currently an Internal Medicine resident at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Dr. Harrison describes himself as thoughtful, gentle, and flexible, and is passionate about providing medical attention to people who don't have access to it. “For me, a desire to exhibit care and compassion for other people drove a career change into medicine, and international missions represent a foundational opportunity to offer that care.”
When asked about the rapidly changing work conditions on a mission trip, Dr. Harrison said, "Missions are about going to serve, about relinquishing personal preferences or inclinations as part of the broader goal of helping the team reach people and enact sustainable change," He continues to say, "When contrasted with the rigidity often present in American medicine, it is a helpful, recurrent reminder of the purpose found in missions, notably making less of self in an attempt to care for the fellow children of the world."
Originally from La Jolla, California, Dr. Rita Starritt serves as a hospitalist for Kindred Hospital both in Denver, Colorado and in San Diego, California and is currently working for Interim Hospice Services in San Diego. With 20 years of private practice experience as an Internist, Dr. Starritt has also served as a medical director in a variety of places. Before taking her role at Interim Hospice Services, she helped establish Lifeline Hospice in Los Angelos, California.
This seasoned Internist is also bilingual and speaks both English and Spanish fluently. Dr. Starritt has extensive volunteer experience from service trips to Honduras, Bangladesh, Waco, to working at a homeless shelter in Colorado. "I am interested in giving back. I was destined to be a physician. Being a doctor is not only what I do, but it is who I am,” says Dr. Starritt. She also understands the importance of giving people medical attention who have limited access healthcare. Dr. Starritt says, “These patients have so little access to health care that a little medical help and knowledge can go a long way.”
Unlike her fellow 2019 GOtoGROW recipients, Dr. Kathy Raynor is a Gastroenterology specialist, but she is also Board Certified in Internal Medicine like the other three Internists. On the long road to her specialty, Dr. Raynor completed a residency in Internal Medicine at University of Connecticut and a Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellowship at the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Dr. Raynor currently resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and is interested in women’s medicine and liver disease. She also enjoys sharing her skills with those in need. “To be able to touch someone's life even if just for a short period of time can be a lifelong effect. Being able to provide both care and education can have long lasting effects beyond the period of time one is able to volunteer,” Dr. Raynor expressed in her GOtoGROW application. She has volunteered in Kenya, Cambodia, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. Dr. Raynor's husband, Sean Kort, will also be joining her on the trip to Nicaragua.
Though all four of this year's GOtoGROW class are Board Certified Internal Medicine physicians, this scholarship opportunity is available to all specialties and Dentists as well.
As physician burnout continues to exacerbate, the GOtoGROW Scholarship can help physicians practice in a completely different environment. "The mission reaffirmed why I became a physician/surgeon. It has raised my awareness of global health and allowed me to see how I may effectively administer care with limited resources," said Dr. Mike Fruscione, 2017 GOtoGROW recipient. He continued, "Oftentimes, we rely heavily on expensive tests and imaging to diagnose disease. On the mission, I returned to the basics of medicine with heavy reliance on history and physical exam. I was invigorated by the experience."
Apply for a life-changing experience and the opportunity to care for the people of Haiti through a GOtoGROW Scholarship.
Molly was the marketing director at SDT from October 2017 through November 2020. She is passionate about connecting with people, digital marketing, and serving her community.