Chelsea LeGuenec
October 4, 2019

WE ARE LAUNCHING A NEW BLOG SERIES HIGHLIGHTING OUR CLIENTS. THE GOAL OF THE SERIES IS TO PROVIDE PERSPECTIVE TO PHYSICIANS GAINED THROUGH OUR COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCE.

MEDICINE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE U.S. THERE IS USUALLY A SHORTAGE OF PHYSICIANS AND THE RESOURCES SPENT ON MEDICAL CARE MAY BE VERY DIFFERENT COMPARED TO THE U.S. IN THIS POST, WE INTERVIEW DR. YING WEATHERALL, PEDIATRIC SURGEON AT LE BONHEUR CHIDREN’S HOSPITAL IN MEMPHIS, TN ABOUT HER EXPERIENCE WORKING ON SHORT TERM MEDICAL MISSION TRIPS.

GETTING INVOLVED

Opportunities to participate in a short-term medical mission trip for medical professionals, dental professionals, students, and non-medical volunteers are abundant.

Dr. Weatherall’s first encounter with surgical mission trips was during general surgery residency when she had the opportunity to go to Haiti. Her experience was “different than any training I had ever received.” While working in a rural hospital, her eyes were opened to the contrast of what undeserved areas are really like outside of the U.S. “As a surgeon, you just want to operate, and the opportunity to use your hands to make a difference appeals to most surgeons.” On this trip, she performed 25-30 surgeries during a 7-day trip.

Fast forward a few years, Dr. Weatherall is practicing pediatric surgery in Memphis, TN and is actively involved in two missionary programs:

1. Point Honduras

2. Liquid Legacy

Point Honduras is a Gospel-driven Memphis-based organization that partner with local churches to help children at risk in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Her colleague, Dr. Eunice Huang approached her and invited her to participate in a surgical mission trip to perform pediatric surgeries. Since her initial trip, she has committed to making a lasting difference. She travels to Tegucigalpa twice a year: once in February and once in October.

Liquid Legacy is a Christ-centered, Memphis-based organization that works alongside local individuals and groups in Peru. Their desired impact is through clean water, medical missions, and community development. Dr. Weatherall was approached by another colleague, Dr. Tim Jancelewicz to partner on a surgical mission trip in June.

Getting involved is easier than you may think. For your first trip, it is best to go with an organized group and with a person who has made similar trips in the past. For Dr. Weatherall, Dr. Huang was that person. For Dr. Jancelewicz, Dr. Weatherall is that person.

SUSTAINABILITY

Dr. Weatherall’s biggest motivator for her involvement is the desire to create sustainability in the communities she serves. While preparing, “we try to gather as much information as possible about what types of surgeries are needed, and what type of supplies the hospital already has.” Dr. Weatherall explains that despite your best effort, you can only accomplish so much through email, “and many questions are best answered once you arrive, such as how many operations one operating room can do in one day, how do they sterilize their instruments, and what type of anesthesia or cardiac monitoring is available in the recovery room.” They planned their first trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras with a secondary goal to learn and understand hospital and OR dynamics in order to propose sustainable long-term solutions that work.  For example, laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair had never been done before so on their first trip together, they performed 25-30 laparoscopic hernia repair surgeries and taught the procedure to the local surgeons.

Since that first fact finding trip, they have developed a plan and will continue to return to Tegucigalpa twice a year. Once in February and once in October.

February Missions will focus on pediatric surgery/care. While the Pediatric Surgical Team performs surgeries, a Medical Team will perform pediatric annual physicals for the children who attend church at Point Honduras. During these trips, they will continue to work with local pediatric surgeons to establish a pediatric fellowship program so Honduras can train more pediatric surgeons to help with the need.

October Missions will focus on Women’s’ Health. As a breast cancer survivor, Dr. Weatherall has a passion for preventative women’s health.  She will travel with a Breast Surgeon, an Ob/Gyn and medical team to perform pap smears, do breast exams, and operative on women with breast masses and cervical disease.

They’ve planned their work and are now working their plan to positively impact society and provide sustainable solutions for children and women at risk.

INTERESTED

If a colleague walked up asking for Dr. Weatherall’s advice about mission trips, she would say:

“There is so much need everywhere. Medical Mission’s not only need surgeons, OR techs, and nurses, we need pharmacists, physical therapists, and dentists.
On these trips, you will meet and interact with people whom you might normally never cross paths with.  On my first trip to Honduras, I made great friends that I still keep in touch with.
Also, it is SAFE. If there is ever a threat of danger, the organization will cancel the trip. We are well fed and have comfortable accommodations. Each trip costs approximately $2,000 per mission and there are several opportunities to raise money.
In addition to doing operations and helping individual patients, we are building an environment of sustainability.”

Regardless of your level of qualification or experience, you can feel confident that you will be well supported to make a valuable contribution. “We just need the man-power because it’s all hands-on deck when we are there”.

Contact Dr. Ying Weatherall at (305) 775-1346 for questions or opportunities.

For more information about Point Honduras, visit www.pointhonduras.org.

For more information about Liquid Legacy, visit www.liquidlegacy.org.

#longviewliving #medicalmission #memphis #surgery #weatherall #physician