By John Carruthers, staff writer, January 01, 2013
Traveling to a country with almost no dermatology structure to speak of requires the determination and faith in one’s skills to practice the specialty under the most challenging of circumstances. Wheaton, Ill., dermatologist James J. Herrmann, MD, has been bringing his skill and determination to severely underserved patients in various areas of Bolivia for a decade along with charitable organization Solidarity Bridge.
“When you’re on these trips, you’re there with people who are very like-minded and altruistic. There’s a sense of community, and that’s wonderful to be part of.”
- During each of his trips to Bolivia, Dr. Herrmann sets up an impromptu clinic. On a visit to a larger urban area, he’ll be allowed use of a local hospital or office. But many times, he said, he’ll set up in the open in a small village and see any and all types of dermatologic conditions. He averages, he said, 400 patients per week during his visits.
- “There’s no real health care insurance structure in Bolivia like we have here,” Dr. Herrmann said. “If you work for a large company, you may get some coverage. For the majority of people, if they can’t afford to pay someone, they won’t get care. We see those who can’t afford care.”
- Dr. Herrmann has also been instrumental in championing the cause of dermatology missions to the country. On recent trips, he said, he has brought along colleagues and employees from his office.
- “I feel like these trips help me appreciate everything back home, how good we have it here,” Dr. Herrmann said. “I probably complain a lot less for awhile after I get back. It grounds you.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference.