Established in 2007, the Penn State chapter of GMB organizes four medical brigades each year, in which students and medical professionals travel to under-served communities to provide medical relief. As an organization dedicated to service, it is our goal to make an impact on these communities by recruiting students and healthcare professionals for each brigade, collecting donations, raising money to purchase additional necessary medications, and planning/executing each brigade. Not only do we want to provide therapeutic care, but also preventative care to improve sustainability through education. Global Brigades empowers us to go to communities with little access to healthcare, and we empower the local people to help themselves.
HOW IS IT SUSTAINABLE?
We are often asked how a 7-10 day medical/dental brigade of unskilled or under-qualified students can be sustainable. It, alone, is certainly not. However, the holistic model employed by Global Brigades allows us to implement lasting solutions via education, preliminary needs assessments, treating patients to the highest ethical standards, sponsoring referrals to those with needs beyond our capability, recording data for the production of quantitative reports, and working with other GB programs, such as our community health workers and the 8 other chapters (Architecture, Business, Engineering, Environmental, Human Rights, Microfinance, Publi Health, and Water), to improve the water, sanitation, and economic infrastructures. For more information about sustainability and the holistic model, please visit globalbrigades.org.
WHAT DOES A MEDICAL/DENTAL BRIGADE LOOK LIKE?
Medical and Dental brigades are 2 of the 10 chapters of Global Brigades. These two chapters often work cooperatively, since both require a clinic-like set-up. On brigades, volunteers have the opportunity to gain different experience and skills by working in different stations of our mobile clinics. These mobile clinics are often set up in local primary schools and consist of 7 differents stations, as illustrated to the left.
In-take. Community volunteers collect information from patients, including name, age, gender, and other demographic information.
Triage. Students have the opportunity to gather basic information from the patients, such as vitals, chief complaints, medical history, current medications, etc.
Consultation. Doctors diagnose and prescribe medications for the patients, while students shadow them and ask questions throughout the consultation. Some brigades will include a gyneocology station.
Dental. Students have the opportunity to shadow professionals and ask questions again as dentists perform cleanings, extractions, and fluoride treatments.
Prescription Drop-off. Pantients drop off their prescriptions to be filled by students and double-checked by licensed pharmacists.
Public Health Education (la "Charla"). Patients receive public health education while waiting for their prescriptions to be filled. Topics include dental care, personal health and hygiene, and preventative care.
Prescription Pick-up. Patients pick up their prescriptions and students convey administrative information such as the type of medication, dosage, and directions for usage.