By John Carruthers, assistant editor, September 2, 2013
In an effort to bring world-class medical care to the remote village of Yamoransa, Ghana, located two hours from any formal medical care, Kaiser Permanente dermatologist Maryam Asgari, MD, MPH, joined up with a host of medical colleagues for a two-week trip through a program set up by the Yale Alumni Service Corps.
In doing so, Dr. Asgari was also able to bring along her then 10-year-old son, who helped teach village children and experience an entirely new culture.
"Even temporarily being able to alleviate human suffering is a gift."
- Dr. Asgari traveled to Ghana as the only dermatologist in a team of 30 medical professionals. Other specialists present for the trip included pediatricians, cardiologists, and opthalmologists. Upon arrival, the entire team talked through how to provide triage, discussed specialties, and set up a clinic at the local school.
- The clinic site required the physicians to work with extremely limited resources, such as unreliable electricity and no running water in the village. Treatment required the judicious use of donated medicines and supplies, as well as a range of dermatologic treatments that Dr. Asgari secured from dermatologist colleagues.
- “I come in to a very structured environment most days. I can open up a schedule book and see my day from 9 to 5. Here there was a tremendous line of patients in various levels of acuity,” Dr. Asgari said. “There was actually no end to the number of patients that needed to be seen. It’s both humbling and disheartening. Every time you’d look out, there would be more people in line.”
- “On our fourth day there, it was very hot and very tight quarters. At the end of our afternoon shift, we were somewhat disheartened. Up comes this lady that had been carried to our clinic with terrible crippling arthritis by her family three days before. The rheumatologist and I saw her together and gave her treatment with prednisone,” Dr. Asgari said. “Three days later she was able to walk to the clinic with a stick and tell us that it was the first time she had been able to walk in years. She brought us a basket full of bread to show us how grateful she was.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference.