White Memorial Doctors Return From ‘Mission of Mercy’

By EGP News Report

There was no running water and the temperature had reached 104 degrees, and the long line of patients hoping to be one of the lucky ones to get inside the clinic and be seen by doctors seemed to have no end.

On June 3, Ernie Guzman, MD, Pediatric Residency Program Director at White Memorial Medical Center boarded one of nearly 20 small planes transporting physicians, residents in training, medical students, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and other volunteers from across California and Arizona to the farm lands of Sinaloa Mexico.

His wife, 14-year-old son, 19-year-old niece and two of his pediatric residents, Kaosar Al Atassi, MD, and Azadeh Salami, MD, were with him, each ready to volunteer their time at three local clinics. Many of the patients they saw had traveled long distances with little or no money, willing to wait hours to receive the free health care being offered.

In El Carrizo, the more rural of the three clinics, which included a non air-conditioned pharmacy where frozen medications were stored, a record number of 150 patients were seen in just one day by Guzman, Salami, two medical students and an EMT.

Their patients included a family with a four-year-old boy the size of a 15-month-old who had run out of thyroid medication two years ago and another family that had spent all their money on bus fare from the mountains to bring in their three-month-old daughter who had been vomiting for a month.

Dr. Guzman’s group worked through the organization LIGA, also known as “The Flying Doctors of Mercy,” which provides an opportunity for medical students, interns and residents to enhance their medical education by visiting remote clinics in Mexico. Through these medical missions, volunteers witness people who have never had medical attention, with deformities and conditions not often seen in the United States. At the same time they are rendering aid to patients who have few if any other medical resources available to them.

“It is cases like these and others that will have us going back to do more and offer as much medical care possible,” said Dr. Guzman upon his return. “Our next medical mission trip is planned for October 7-9,” he said.

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August 11, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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