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Community Donations Needed for Family Medicine Service Trip to Honduras

Monday, April 18, 2011

Family Medicine volunteer Plays with Honduran Children

Delivering quality care takes more than state-of-the-art hospitals and cutting-edge technology. Highland Family Medicine residents are learning the practice of medicine, at its foundation, takes compassion and some basic supplies.

Family Medicine residents are collecting supplies for an underserved community in southwest Honduras. Residents and other medical staff will take the items with them to San José de Sierra where they will provide clinical care, education and skills that could prevent illnesses. Donations will be collected through the end of April. The group of about a dozen medical residents and students, attending physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists and dental residents is scheduled to leave for Honduras at 5 a.m. Saturday, May 7.

"I feel like we have a responsibility to share our resources with people who don’t have them," said Erin Lineman, M.D., who is leading the collection. "For people who can’t go anywhere or think they can’t do anything, this is a way to help."

Dr. Erin Lineman, on the left

Residents are looking for the following donations: Big bars of soap, toothpaste, regular shampoo, hand sanitizer, Head and Shoulders, baby shampoo, vaseline (in squeeze tubes), KY jelly (for vaginal exams), Sombra cream, pregnancy tests, Senna, triple antibiotic ointment, Aveeno soap, Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide creams and sample soaps.

In addition, volunteers are collecting sunglasses, baseball caps, flashlights, kids books in Spanish, school/learning supplies, dry erase markers and duct tape.

Supplies can be dropped off in the front of Highland Family Medicine at 777 South Clinton Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620.

The two-week service trip is part of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Global Health Program, which trains residents how to provide care to the underserved. Since October 2003, groups from the Family Medicine Department have traveled to Honduras twice a year. About 120 staff members have served at least 3,000 people to date.

"This program helps local doctors see the big picture," said Doug Stockman, M.D., Director of the Global Health Program. "This is more than giving out medicine and ordering tests; treating patients in Honduras trains these doctors how to work in resource-poor environments."

On each trip, the medical team runs a clinic every day, but it also distributes school supplies and shows community members how to prevent illness through small building projects. Since 2003, the Family Medicine volunteers have replaced poorly constructed stoves with new cook stoves in 142 homes. This has helped to prevent children from getting burned and worsening asthma. They have built 43 latrines and provided 172 families with water filters. Both projects have helped reduce cases of diarrhea and potentially deadly illnesses. In addition, a fourth piped water project is nearing completion which means hundreds of Hondurans will no longer have to carry water on their backs from distant water sources.

The program’s success has allowed Family Medicine to recruit more doctors to Rochester. In fact, URMC’s residency program received a federal grant in November to increase its number of medical residents from 10 to 12 per class.

"There is a shortage of family medicine and primary care doctors across the country, but our Global Health Program has been a big draw for us," said Thomas Campbell, M.D., Chair of the Department of Family Medicine. "And family physicians who train here are more likely to settle here."

About half the medical residents who have completed the Global Health Program in the last five years practice in Rochester.

Dr. Lineman (on the left in the photo), who will be making her second trip in May, says her first experience in Honduras was reaffirming, and she plans to stay in Rochester for at least a few years following the completion of her residency.

"I loved it," she said. "It was a great confirmation to me that I had picked a career that I could love."

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