By John Carruthers, staff writer, April 01, 2011
Dermatologist Jeffrey Thompson, DO, believes in providing essential care for the world’s most underserved patients. Following the cataclysmic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Dr. Thompson leveraged connections through his church to travel with a handful of physicians to a small village near Port-au-Prince. Patient demand was incredibly high — a number of patients made daylong journeys on foot to receive care and stayed outdoors overnight when demand proved too high to receive care on the day of their arrival. The only breaks in treatment, Dr. Thompson said, came when the physicians were too fatigued at the end of the day to continue. With a complete lack of medical supplies in the area, the group had to carefully coordinate their trip to maximize the care they were able to deliver. Dr. Thompson has remained an active volunteer in Haiti, as well as other developing nations.
"“There are so many rewards. I think the most noticeable one for me was the sense of really making a difference the people were just so appreciative. They just didn’t expect anything. There was no sense of entitlement. Even the smallest little gesture on our part was met with gratitude.”
- Dr. Thompson’s group saw hundreds of patients each day, with 100 to 200 often showing up hours before the physicians began the day’s work.
- In addition to providing vital medical care, Dr. Thompson’s group also provided dental care to patients. For many of these villagers, even those in their 50s, it was the first time in their lives they were afforded access to a dentist.
- “We saw every kind of disease — from infectious diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia to uncontrolled hypertension, scabies, and parasitic infection. The patients were genuinely appreciative and very glad to see us,” he said. “What hit me first was the poverty and the subsistence lifestyle that the villagers endured — a lack of food, of fresh water, of cleanliness. There were just no resources.”
- Dr. Thompson has taken five trips to deliver care to Haiti, as well as three trips to the Dominican Republic.
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference