New Medical Brigade Part of Bridges Long Term Health Program Goals

This November five medical professionals led by Dr. Michael Lahn, an emergency physician at New York Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital, will be participating in a medical brigade in Nicaragua with Bridges to Community. The group will provide care and engage in cross-cultural exchange in rural communities where Bridges to Community works, and contributes to Bridges’ goals to expand its health program.

Dr. Lahn, who has participated in many Bridges to Community service trips with his family and friends, decided to form the group after being involved in a medical emergency with a local teenager in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Lahn accompanied the youth to the local clinic. “I walked away from that experience wondering if I could have taught the local doctor some things that could have helped him be a better physician, and vice-versa,” recalls Dr. Lahn.

When he returned home, Dr. Lahn spoke with Bridges to Community Executive Director John  Hannan about the possibility of a medical brigade: “John explained Bridges’ goal of increasing their medical presence in rural Nicaragua, especially in the northeastern region. It seemed like both my interest and Bridges’ plans could come together easily.”

“These brigades make up the human component of the large plan we have to help build a regional health center that will ensure people in the area receive the basic human right of health care,” Mr. Hannan explains, referring to the Hormiguero Health Clinic that Bridges will begin constructing in 2017. The clinic will provide 24 hour medical service for over 18,000 in northeastern Nicaragua.

Bridges to Community’s goals for their health program echo those established by the United Nations in the new Sustainable Development Goals, which include “ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-bring for all at all ages.”

The group is made up of physicians that cover a large breadth of medicine, including pediatrics, obstetrics, orthopedics, and emergency care.  They will go down with the goals of treating local residents with acute problems, as well as screening and identifying some underlying chronic problems such as diabetes and hypertension and getting them started on long-term treatment plans.

Dr. Ingrid Mudge, also from NYP/Lawrence Hospital and who has practiced medicine for over 15 years and is no stranger to ensuring healthy lives, had always aspired to do international medical brigade work, but it always seemed out of reach. Now, with the shorter time frame and affordability of this brigade, she is finally able to.

“This is a great way to begin exploring the experience of international medical work,” states Dr. Mudge. “I have always thought that it is important for those of us who have access to high quality medical training and equipment to use those means to support communities who are not so fortunate. Having the opportunity to improve and prolong life is one of the greatest privileges of a medical career.”

The trip will be going down from November 12-20, 2016. For more information on how to get involved with Bridges to Community’s trips or programs, contact us at info@bridgestocommunity.org.