Doctors Who Heed the Call

Physician's Money Digest, December15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 23

In Santarém, Brazil, John Gibney, MD, a volunteer of Esperança (602-252-7772; www.esperanca.org), holds his next patient,Allisandra Silva, just outside of the operating room. He is aided by Jovina, a registered nurse who is in charge of the surgery programs at Esperança. Dr. Gibney was the first in his family to attend college and then medical school, so he considers the medical mission one way he can return the favor to some higher order for his good fortunes:"The personal benefits I receive by being able to directly help to improve the lives of such grateful children and adults is almost indescribable."

It is late morning in El Transito, Honduras, and Maria Padilla, MD, medical director of the Lung Transplantation Program and director of the ILD/Advanced Lung Disease Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, is concerned that her 16-year-old patient, Melvin,may have tuberculosis. Dr. Padilla describes her experience:"Here, we were accommodated in the local two-room schoolhouse. By this time we were adept at setting up our ‘clinic' with examining rooms partitioned off by hanging tablecloths or sheets and examining tables made up of adjoining benches covered with washed, empty sacks of sugar or flour to make the hard surface slightly more comfortable." Dr. Padilla's much-needed medical skills were brought to Honduras through the efforts of Mercy Corps International (800-292-3355; www.mercycorps.org).

Deanna (left), age 5, and Claudia (right), age 4, are not only the patients of Dr. Padilla, they are also her biggest fans; they just adore her.They, too, are residents of Honduras seeking the medical attention of Dr. Padilla of Mercy Corps International. On the first day of Dr. Padilla's arrival, she and her colleagues saw 125 patients. By the second day, word had spread and they saw 330 patients.

To meet the needs of people, physician volunteer Richard Gingery, MD, from Montrose, Colo, set up a clinic in the small village of Ilam, about 300 miles east of Khatmandu, Nepal. A member of Helping Hands Health Education, Dr. Gingery recalls his experience, "The need of the people waiting to be seen was so great and the ability to meet their needs suddenly seemed so small. . . perhaps this was the right note on which to leave Ilam, knowing that somehow, one day, those unmet needs would draw us back."