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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

  • Partner Highlight: Dr. John Engle

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 26, 2014

    Assistant Professor and Chair of Pediatric Dentistry at Oregon Health and Science University Dr. John Engle is a big fan and supporter of Medical Teams International's Mobile Dental Program. In fact, Dr. Engle feels the value of the program, and its partnership with the school of dentistry, is best described in not one, but three key parts.

    First and foremost he openly discussed the value of the program, specifically for children, by serving as an excellent and practical resource for dental care. If a parent has to take time off of work to drive their child to and from a dentist office miles away from their home, school or work, the likelihood that they will do so is significantly decreased. To meet this need, the Mobile Dental Clinic brings dentists directly to the children while they are at school eliminating a major obstacle in pediatric oral health and providing a continuity of care for repeat patients.

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    Second, the Mobile Dental Program is an excellent training tool for the students of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).

    “The dental van is our go-to outlet for training,” said Dr. Engle.

    “Providing pediatric procedures in an educational setting is challenging. Our dental students receive about 70% of their pediatric clinical experience through the Mobile Dental Program.”

    Finally, the Mobile Dental Program serves as a vehicle for philanthropic involvement for the students within the dentistry program at OHSU. Dr. Engle hopes that through their involvement with the Mobile Dental Program, a seed will have been planted that will inspire volunteerism throughout their professional careers.

    “The value of the Mobile Dental Program to the school of dentistry is to provide clinical experience and a philanthropic outlet for our students and residents, while at the same time helping to meet a critical need in the community,” said Engle.

    Additionally, Dr. Engle briefly touched on the cost-savings benefits of the Mobile Dental Program to the hospitals. Dr. Engle estimated that about 30% of Emergency Room visits in Oregon, especially amongst adults, are dental related emergencies. With an average Emergency Room bill reaching over $600, many of which are left unpaid, the Mobile Dental Program provides both savings for the hospitals and excellent dental care for those in need.

    “It really is a neat relationship,” said Dr. Engle. “If the program ceased to exist, I don’t know what we’d do.”

    Story by Krystal Foote
  • Field Photos: Malaria Hang Up Campaign, SW Uganda

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 25, 2014

    Today is the first day of a three day malaria hang-up campaign at Nakivale Health Center II in Nakivale Settlement, SW Uganda!

    Village Health Teams (VHTs) made up of MTI volunteers spent all day yesterday being trained on how to hang mosquito nets and how to tell the families how to use them. 

    There are 2 VHTs per community.  Today (and for the next two days) they are taking mosquito nets to the communities where they live and work in to distribute the nets and hang them with the families, one-by-one.

    Thank you for your support of our Africa programs.  You make this possible!

    VHTs gather at the health center to get t-shirts, final instructions, and thank you from the Uganda Office of the Prime Minister, rep from UNHCR, and MTI Africa Program Manager Trina Chase.
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    Village Health Team members Anatase (right) and Edissa (left) get instruction / plan from Charles (center), MTI staff in charge of clinic.
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    Village Health Teams gather the mosquito nets and head out.
    malaria-net-collection-uganda

    Anatase and Edissa document that the family has received a net.
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    Anatase and Edissa help a community member hang a net.
    hanging-mosquito-nets-malaria

  • Volunteer Story: Sandy Gregg

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 25, 2014
    Sandy Gregg, System Director, Nursing and Clinical Strategy for Providence Health & Services, came to Alta Verapaz in September 2013 as a member of Providence’s fourth team with MTI. With eight health professionals representing programs in four states, the all-­‐ women team supported the construction of 40 stoves in the village of Granadilla, a project benefitting 230 individuals.

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    Tortilla making in Granadilla with Sandy Gregg (left) and Aimee Khuu, Program Director for International Missions, Providence Health & Services 

    Prior to participating with MTI, Gregg’s previous experience in Latin America included serving on a health delegation to El Salvador with the Catholic Health Consortium in addition to multiple immersion trips with Providence Health & Services. “I have found deep joy in working alongside the people of El Salvador, and I participated on the trip to Guatemala to learn about the work occurring in this country and to determine ways in which we can engage Providence’s nursing workforce to positively impact the health of Guatemalans,” Gregg said. “My time with MTI provided valuable insight related to the resources available in small villages and many of the immediate health needs.”

    guatemalan-family-stove

    As a part of Providence’s alliance with Rafael Landívar University, Gregg spent the three days prior to her MTI trip with university staff examining how Guatemalan health professionals approach their care in both urban and rural areas. Her field experience with MTI complemented her overview of Guatemala’s health needs by providing field experience in a high-­‐need area.

    The Providence team included two native Spanish speakers, but when community members were only Q’eqchi’-speaking, the team relied on MTI staff or their own creativity to communicate. “We found music and dancing crosses all languages,” Gregg noted. The team also cultivated relationships by sharing learning tools that they had brought as well as participating in community activities. “The children loved to color and draw—coloring books allowed for us to work on something together,” Gregg said. “Just stepping in and trying to help was also effective—for example we watched the women make tortillas and then we just picked up some batter and started to help. The women showed us what to do and cheered for us.”

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    By spending time with families in their homes as well as having the opportunity to meet for lunch with Mother Monitors and members of Granadilla’s Community Leadership Council, the Providence team was able to connect with individuals in distinct leadership roles whose collaboration with MTI has gone on for several years as well as with families who were participating with an MTI project and with foreign volunteers for the first time. The Guatemalan rainy season provided a dramatic and often slippery backdrop to team activities, but the Providence team met the inclement weather with their walking sticks and rain jackets at the ready and their hearts filled with determination.

    When asked to highlight an experience or a relationship that most impacted her over the course of the week, Gregg said that it was a combination of factors that contributed to an overall holistic experience. “I believe it is the culmination of many moments that is so transformational,” she said, pointing to the collaborative effort realized alongside community members, the support of staff, as well as the unity within the Providence team as they worked toward a common goal for the health of Granadilla as key aspects contributing to an overall, high­‐impact experience.

    Providence Health & Services continues to look for ways to strengthen its relationship with MTI Guatemala’s maternal and child health initiative, and will sponsor Health Program Manager Aurelia Ma and Community Health Worker Rutilia Jor to attend a conference for health promoters put on by Visión y Compromiso this December in Los Angeles, California.

    Story and Photos by Brittn Grey

  • Syrian Refugee Crisis: Nasra's Story

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 24, 2014

    Nasra does not know if her husband is alive. 

    She is unsure what will become of her and her young children in this refugee settlement in Lebanon.

    syrian-refugee-nasra

    Nasra’s story began in the Syrian city of Homs. When the war started nearly 2 years ago and the fighting escalated, her husband’s work became more intermittent and their resources more scarce. At one point there was no food left for their two children to eat, and Nasra’s husband had to leave the house in search of supplies.

    He left and never returned. Nasra later heard witness reports that he’d been arrested along with several others and taken to prison.

    The fighting pressed closer and Nasra’s house - in the middle of a battlefield- was bombed and leveled. Thankfully, she and her children were elsewhere at the time and survived. But with no home, no food, no husband, and increasing violence all around, she knew she and her children’s lives would be in grave danger if they stayed.

    syrian-refugee-family-lebanon

    The refugee settlement they live in now in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley provides safety. But fear and uncertainty remain. She has heard that her husband may have been executed in prison. She worries that her children will get sick living in the settlement camps with poor sanitation and meager food. She wonders how she will ever be able to provide for herself and her family. Nasra is a refugee in a foreign land with no home, no income and no clear picture of the future.

    The plight of the nearly 1.2 million Syrian refugees now in Lebanon is hard to overstate. Beyond the unimaginable uncertainty they face as refugees, their growing numbers and lack of dependable access to food, clean water and medical care have elevated the urgency of the crisis, compelling us to do more. Medical Teams International is working to mobilize additional medical volunteer teams to provide care to people like Nasra, her family and the millions of Syrian refugees who have lost so much.

    Thank you for your generous support to this crisis.  We cannot provide care without your compassion and generosity.  To donate, visit MedicalTeams.org/Syria.

  • Mobile Dental Success Story: Anonymous

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 24, 2014

    A note of gratitude to you...

    One of our mobile dental clinics recently received this story from a patient who wished to remain anonymous:

    My tooth (teeth) got so terrible that they had literally holes in them. I moved from [state withheld] with my 19-month-old baby to flee a life threatening domestic violence situation.  Now I am living at the Union Gospel Mission with my son and joined Saint Matthews Church.  While @ church I was told about Mobile dental clinic.  Not having dental insurance I jumped @ the opportunity.  I am thankful to God for the people who make this happen.

    Thank you for your compassion for neighbors who are truly in need.  Your generosity is changing lives.

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