1. A doctor providing temporary medical coverage when normal services are otherwise unavailable, such as when a physician is on sabbatical or medical leave.
2. A clinician, student, or other volunteer who is more interested in being of service during their time off than merely focusing on their own pleasure. And who doesn’t mind getting wet.
Over 80% of the world’s population lives within 5 miles of a coast, but far too many communities still live in remote poverty without access to basic health care. Poorly charted waters and rugged terrain, political factors, social disenfranchisement, poor health knowledge, poverty and lack of infrastructure separate these communities
The Floating Doctors medical team was formed to answer these challenges to health. We deploy medical teams by boat, packhorse or on foot to remote underserved areas, where we conduct ongoing health services and community development
To help us reach these forgotten communities, the sailing ship ‘Southern Wind’ was donated and rebuilt as a medical relief platform in 2009. In 2010 Floating Doctors sailed for our first mission in Haiti with medical volunteers and 20,000 pounds of aid supplies to assist in the earthquake relief efforts.
Haiti defined the capabilities and potential for Floating Doctors mission work—long-range response to disasters, self-sufficient operation platform on station, ability to bring health care to remote communities, tailoring care and assistance to the specific health needs of the community, creating partnerships with other groups, and engaging local agencies and communities to assist in making better health possible.
After Haiti, we worked in Honduras for almost a year, and in Haiti again to assist in the cholera epidemic. We were invited to visit Panama and assist in addressing the poor health access of the Ngabe-Bugle indigenous in Panama’s western region. Shortly after arriving in Panama, we determined to implement our first permanent rural health care and community development program in this region. Once we are confident on our project’s sustainability in Panama, we intend to modify and duplicate this model for other locations.
Currently our team operates and grows a sustainable rural health service over a 10,000+ square mile area of jungle-covered mountain and mangrove mazes in which we are often the only medical service available.
Worms and other parasites, machete wounds, malnutrition, dengue fever, STDs, HIV, poor pre-natal health, shark bites, infected wounds, scabies, lightning strikes and fungal infections are among the many conditions we have encountered.
The absence of sanitation, electricity, clean water and other infrastructure combine with poverty and poor health knowledge to compound every challenge to health care.
Despite these challenges, as of 2017 over 60,000 patients have received care from our teams.
With challenges affecting health at every level, Floating Doctors utilizes a highly versatile approach to a dynamic health environment. Our programs address individual and community health—not only do we provide acute and ongoing medical care, but also include education, training, community projects, supply donation, and preventive health interventions to create sustainable improvements in health. Our programs are continuously evaluated and adapted to ensure Floating Doctors focuses on the current key health issues identified in communities.
After over 2,000 clinical deployments the Floating Doctors model and our ability to deliver results has been proven many times over. With a committed, experienced leadership and board as well as key local and international partnerships, Floating Doctors has grown in scope every year since we first set sail. We look forward to continuing to bring more help to the communities we serve, and to see the Floating Doctors flag flying on many other shores in the future.