Remote Medical Outposts
Our establishment of regular clinical deployments over such a large area has been a major improvement in regional health access, but between our visits to communities, accident and illness still take a heavy toll on the communities and help is far away. We knew we had to develop some kind of ongoing presence to make health services available not only regularly, but constantly. After all, machetes sometimes slip, pregnant women tumble down muddy hills, snakes bite, people have seizures or heart attacks or strokes or other acute medical issues when we aren’t there.
Additionally, it is tough enough for patients in the USA to make good lifestyle changes for, say, diabetes, but imagine what it is like for a remote rural villager with little or no access to services or healthy eating options? Or what about an elderly grandparent with a pressure sore being cared for by a family all sharing the same tiny hut in the jungle, or a patient with advanced metastatic cancer who is dying at home with no palliative care available? Being able to assist and support on a daily basis is sometimes critical to a patient getting a good outcome, even if that good outcome is simply being able to pass away with dignity and free from pain and fear, surrounded by their family.
Lastly, we are determined to provide health training and education to community members as well as local midwives (parteras) and Community Health Workers. There are many short-term health training curriculums but our view is that it takes 4 years to make a doctor or nurse, and although there is a lot you can teach someone in a week, we believe that long-term education with ongoing reinforcement and apprenticeship/mentoring is critical to creating real health care capacity within these remote villages.
In partnership with three villages in areas of high need, and strategically chosen to allow other villages in the region to have a place they can travel to in case of emergency, we have constructed Remote Medical Outposts where we ultimately will to send a small medical team to live and attend patients each week, rather than the entire large team only deploying there every couple of months. These outposts will give our patients ongoing access both to health services and health knowledge, and will greatly improve outcomes by reducing the time between an acute event and appropriate treatment.
If you are volunteering with Floating Doctors, you may be selected to deploy to one of our Outposts with a small team and live in the village for the week, providing emergency care, working with chronic patients, conducting education and training activities, and participating in the ongoing cultural exchange that is inevitable when you live and work side by side with your target population.