Not 15 minutes after a volunteer medical team set up the trauma room at Upon This Rock Medical Center in Nigeria, a three-year-old boy was rushed in by a family neighbor. He had been hit by a motorcycle and suffered a head injury. Dr. Glenn Castaneda and his team were just beginning their fourth mission to the Center with support from Americares. The team worked with one of the nurses at the Center to stabilize and successfully treat the patient.
The father soon arrived in a state of panic – over his son’s safety and then for the bill he would have to pay for treatment. In Nigeria, everyone is expected to pay for health care, and those who cannot pay suffer great shame. When the doctor told the father that there was no charge, he wept and started kissing the doctor’s hands. Dr. Castaneda directed him to James Umekwe who had built the clinic with money from his own 401k. The father proceeded to thank Mr. Umekwe in the same manner. Two calamities averted and gratitude shared.
The volunteer medical team provides primary care and surgical services to Upon This Rock Medical Center in Ozu Abam. This community center and medical facility was set up in 2012 through Clarrion Call, an organization established by James Umekwe, a Nigerian-American who was devastated when several Nigerian relatives died due to lack of access to medical care. The visiting team of five volunteers included two health care providers who saw 450 patients and performed 30 surgeries during their visit. The conditions most frequently seen were malaria, hernia repair, hypertension, parasitic infections and sepsis.
“We could not do our work without you. The IV and pediatric antibiotics you provide are incredibly useful. And when we send our patients to the government hospital, we now know to give them a care-package so they don’t have to pay for medication and medical supplies in addition to the hospital bill. For example, an IV cephalosporin costs $8 (which is a week’s pay for a farmer). We are able to provide all of their medication for free thanks to Americares.”
Americares Medical Outreach supports volunteer medical teams with medicine, supplies and educational resources. Each year, these health care professionals treat nearly 700,000 patients, bringing quality care to people in approximately 80 countries while strengthening local health care institutions.