Like many of our faculty members, Dr. Julie Kmiec is committed to meeting the needs of people who often lack access to health care services. When she was invited by the Global Brigades chapter at her alma mater, Smith College, to accompany them to rural Honduras as part of a mobile health clinic, she enthusiastically answered “Yes!” Global Brigades is an international non-profit organization that aims to meet the needs of underserved areas. The group organizes teams of students and healthcare professionals to travel to disadvantaged communities to train community health workers, provide consistent access to healthcare through mobile clinics staffed by volunteers, and educate residents on preventive care. They also refer patients to local specialists when possible.
While in Honduras, Dr. Kmiec and the Global Brigades team visited a rural community and saw community health workers in action. After sorting and packing medications and other donated supplies, the team traveled to a rural school where they set up a mobile clinic. Stations were set up for general medical consultations and for some specialty services including gynecology and dentistry. The group also organized a modest pharmacy on site. Dr. Kmiec and the team reserved a special area of the school for child and adult health promotion education.
When Dr. Kmiec arrived at the clinic each morning, a long line of people were already waiting for her and the other volunteers. Many of these individuals had walked for hours to get medical and dental care. With the help of a translator, Dr. Kmiec and the Global Brigades team treated about 30 patients per day. Most complaints were related to common physical problems such as dermatitis, colds, and hypertension. However Dr. Kmiec noted that some patients did report they had problems with nervousness or feeling anxious.
“I am very thankful for my time in Honduras,” said Dr. Kmiec. “The staff of Global Medical Brigades was wonderful and took very good care of us. It was great to be around students and alumnae from Smith again, and I’m already looking forward to my next Brigade trip!”