It’s hard to imagine a hospital that doesn’t help people get better. Or one that only has medicine three months each year. But in certain developing nations, that’s the reality.
Strike that; that was the reality.
Now, thanks to Dr. Edward O’Bryan and the fine folks at the Palmetto Medical Initiative, locals in areas of Uganda, Nicaragua and Burundi are learning how to provide first-world medical care for their peers and future generations.
Edward feels that this community-based approach to healthcare is the best for all involved. He’s seen how the presence and efforts of major healthcare organizations in a foreign country can backfire when they don’t involve members of the community. Namely, when the major healthcare organization leaves and the medical crisis returns. By equipping local medical professionals in developing nations with proper facilities, medicine—for 12 months out of the year as opposed to three— and modern medical knowledge, Dr. O’Bryan and the Palmetto Medical Initiative are empowering communities to truly take care of themselves. It’s the sustainable healthcare plan.
You know, that whole “teaching a man to fish” thing.
The Palmetto Medical Initiative currently has three outposts in Uganda, Nicaragua and Burundi, each with a different specialty. That’s also part of the sustainable healthcare plan; seeing a need and meeting it. In Uganda, it’s labor and delivery. (The average woman has 10 pregnancies, only six survive.) In Nicaragua: kidney disease screening and prevention. And in war-torn Burundi: trauma and emergency services. Patients pay what they can and, if they can’t, they still receive first-class care.
“The best part about doing this is that it runs without me,” says Edward.
This kind of work is not without its rewards. Edward has plenty of anecdotes about how PMI has positively changed the lives of many. Of course, he has a few favorites.
“Once, in Nicaragua, we excised this large mass from this woman’s head. She was unable to carry anything on her head and was having trouble getting help from others in the community. She came back a year later just to say thank you,” recounts Edward.
Or, when PMI introduced a new kind of anesthesia to its Ugandan community for the first time—replacing the ketamine IV with the epidural—and a woman who had sadly lost her first three deliveries experienced her first live birth.
And there was the time that man called Tylenol a “magical pill” because it alleviated his arthritis pain.
Dr. Edward O’Bryan: creating a new healthcare reality for those who really need it.
Words by: Annabel Jones
Photography by: Adam Chandler