Bridging the Health Care Gap through Service

Certified PA Lindsay Spencer wanted to do more than just deliver healthcare as a profession. She wanted to use her PA knowledge and skills to bring care to a community where a healthcare system didn’t exist. This summer she joined an interprofessional team of healthcare providers to deliver care and education to 678 people in the Tierra Blanca Mountain Range of rural Guatemala.

In addition to herself, the care team included physicians, nurses, EMTs, pharmacists, and a dentist; and the team addressed an array of needs:  Patients with malnutrition, diabetes, congestive heart failure (CHF), seizure disorders, infections, and STDs. Not only did the team diagnose medical conditions and distribute medications, but health education was also key. The team also helped patients get fitted for eyeglasses, and future work will include additional oral health education and screenings, as well as fluoride varnish application.

One of the project’s greatest contributions was helping to establish a system to allow community members to continue receiving care. This new free medical clinic will be supported by a local public health nurse, doctor, and dentist; and another group of health care volunteers are anticipated to travel back to the region next year. Lindsay plans to be among them.

“Personally, being able to stand in the gap of poverty,” she shared, “and help those that are suffering became something I know will become a regular part of my career as a physician assistant.”

She believes the project not only helped an underserved population but helped her to grow as a healthcare provider.

The outreach project was partially funded by the nccPA Health Foundation’s Be the CHANGE Grant.

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