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To give physicians and staff the opportunity to get involved in international health, the Physicians’ Council has established the Brigham and Women’s Outreach to Chimbote program.
The program aims to have two five- to seven-day visits per year to Chimbote, Peru, an impoverished community with about 650,000 inhabitants and limited health facilities on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
During those visits, volunteers will work at the Centro de Obras Sociales and the Maternidad Hospital, jointly operated medical facilities which consist of a maternity hospital and an outpatient medical, obstetric, pediatric and minor procedure clinic, which also includes a clinical laboratory and plain radiology.
Allen Smith, MD, MS, co-chair of the Physicians’ Council, in February visited Chimbote, and found at the Centro de Obras Sociales professional and compassionate staff working with limited resources to provide clinical care for all patients. “There is a ‘can do’ spirit as well as an insistence on quality protocols, that, while not sophisticated, remind me of BWH and its commitment to stand above the rest in quality and safety,” he said.
The staff at the Centro de Obras Sociales provide high-quality, humanitarian health care, making significant improvements on the health of the people of Chimbote. Annually, the Centro de Obras Sociales sees 2,730 deliveries; 1,128 high-risk newborns; 31,277 medical office visits; and 1,985 malnutrition visits.
Staff from the Centro de Obras Sociales provide regular outreach and home visits for people unable to visit the clinic. Volunteer physicians participating in home visits can appreciate the lifestyle and challenges facing this impoverished community. BWH medical personnel can provide medical assistance and develop strategic plans to improve health care in their discipline.
Mari-Kim Bunnell, MD, regularly volunteers in Chimbote, and now, through the outreach effort, will assist the Physicians’ Council’s Volunteerism Subcommittee in coordinating opportunities for other physicians to do the same. “My knowledge as a physician allowed me to make a meaningful impact on lives of others, and they in turn helped transform my life,” she said.
The Physicians’ Council’s Volunteerism Subcommittee, chaired by Edmund Cibas, MD, of Pathology, chose Chimbote because of its potential appeal to many BWPO physicians and its relative proximity to BWH.
“Those who volunteer in Chimbote will have an unforgettable experience, especially if they have not previously worked in an underserved area,” said Brian Bilchik, MD, chairman of the Physicians’ Council Events Committee and member of the council’s Volunteerism Subcommittee. “Giving of your time and talents in a place like Chimbote is both rewarding and enlightening. I hope you will join us for this extraordinary opportunity.”
For more information, attend Medical Grand Rounds on May 4 for Bunnell’s presentation, and visit www.bwhpikenotes.org/chimbote/index.html