Medical mission trips provide a way to give back to others by helping people in need.
OBHG’s Dr. Denise Meckler and Brooke Elliott recently returned from a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. It’s known for its beaches, resorts and golfing.
In partnership with Hope Worldwide, Dr. Meckler served in a women’s health clinic as part of the trip. There was a nurse practitioner and a pediatrician on the team. They were joined by six local internists and two other pediatricians. There were many volunteers who were helping with dental services, optometry services and other stations as well.
The first day the team worked in a clinic in a church in Santo Domingo, the capital. The next day they went into a rural village about an hour and a half away and held a clinic at a school there as well. The group saw about 850 patients in two days.
“I speak fluent Spanish. I volunteer in a Hispanic clinic in St. Louis and have always wanted to go on missions ever since graduating college or medical school. But I had gotten into a busy private practice, then I had children, and I became a single parent, and it never worked.” said Dr. Meckler, OBHG hospitalist.
“So, when I stopped my practice and joined OBHG as a hospitalist, my schedule freed up enough for me to be able to go on a mission. Hopefully, this is the first of many to come. I enjoy taking care of Hispanic patients, because I speak Spanish and it’s very rewarding, to be able to speak their language and to answer their questions and kind of give them a peace of mind.”
“The second day that we were there, we went into the village in about an hour and a half outside of Santo Domingo. And it was 80% Haitian refugees, that most of them are illegal or undocumented. They didn’t even speak Spanish. They spoke Creole, but they had people there who could speak Spanish. That was an eye opener to me – the Haitian refugee situation. The poverty we saw was very profound. We were set up in a school, and the head of school had some gynecologic questions, so she came to me and was telling me all about the school. It was a middle school, kindergarten through seventh grade, and the kids walked three and a half miles each way to school. They get breakfast and lunch and that may be their only food for the day. Some students pass out in line waiting to get into school, because they don’t have enough water or food. So those things are heart wrenching and terrible to have to even experience but my kids went with me, and they had an eye-opening experience as well.”
“The people of the Dominican Republic were lovely; they were very hospitable. They were very excited we were there. They were very appreciative of the teams and they went out of their way to make sure we had water and food. The days that we were working and took lunch breaks, they were very hospitable. So it was, it was a good team effort.”
OBHG Senior Clinical Recruiter Brooke Elliott has traveled to two medical mission trips in the past year. “It’s a thrill that OBHG and my passion for missions marry and I’m given an opportunity to give back; to have a positive impact on someone’s life; to change a little part of the world.”
OBHG’s mission to elevate the standard of care for women and babies expands beyond our national footprint. We support our clinicians and non-clinical employees in providing healthcare and support services to women in need across the U.S. and the globe. Our passion for people and helping those in need has inspired many of our employees to serve on medical missions in impoverished regions. OBHG provides medical mission trip opportunities throughout the year. Many OBHG clinicians and teammates say they return from these trips with an increased sense of purpose in caring for patients.