Our commitment to providing ongoing care to the communities we serve sets us apart from traditional medical missions. In Panama, we maintain detailed records of our patients’ health and treatment in more than 25 remote communities. The impact of a single brigade clinic in a remote region can be very high even if they don’t return…but it is nothing compared to the impact of a permanent presence. Every week, our teams deploy and treat between 30 and 200 patients a day. We visit the communities at least every three months to ensure our chronic patients receive appropriate care and to prevent new issues from developing while we are away.
We conduct single-day clinical deployments to communities near our base and multi-day clinics as long as five days to more remote locations, living in villages during the deployment and returning to our base afterwards. We maintain a well-stocked pharmacy and portable diagnostic supplies such as ultrasound, ECG, urinalysis and some basic labs, but classical clinical diagnosis has proven to be an effective and popular approach to delivering health care in remote settings by talking to patients, listening to them, and examining them. In remote settings, clinicians coming from well-resourced environments have the opportunity to remember that advanced imaging and labs are wonderful, but their absence should not hinder quality care. Our practice environment still places a high value on clinical skills.
We provide primary care and emergency care, dental care, advanced patient care coordination, education and training, and community development to remote communities with limited access to health care. The Floating Doctors have traveled over 6,000 miles in Southern Wind, over 20,000 miles in open boats or dugout canoes, and hundreds of miles in minivans or on foot with pack horses. Through our treatment of acute issues, we develop the trust and knowledge to tackle the systemic causes of illness in our population.
Keeping mothers and children healthy is one of our top priorities, which is why we place a heavy emphasis on preventive care. Our patients now attend our clinics not only when they are ill, but also when they are well to get de-worming tablets, vitamins, soap or new toothbrushes to help protect themselves and their families.
Our follow-up visits to each target community allow us to be much more conservative in our care without putting patients at risk, as well as to follow up with wounds, infections, and other conditions for which we have initiated treatment and need to review the patient as soon as possible. We implemented a separate ‘Chronic Patient Follow-Up’ program in 2017 to handle the complex management of chronic health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, and other chronic health conditions.
Bringing health care where others have said it was impossible is the core of our program and what the mobile clinic is designed to do. Visit our Volunteer Page for more information about working with us in the field and helping us make the impossible happen every day.