This is what happens when we go global

June 19, 2017 | by Mary Lou Mastro

When you participate in a medical mission, there’s a large altruistic component.

You’re volunteering to help people in another part of the world who are not as fortunate, who don’t have the same access to healthcare. You feel like you’re really making a difference. It’s important work.

What you don’t fully realize, until you participate in the trip, is how it changes you.

It’s hard not to come home and feel truly grateful, to realize how incredibly blessed we are and how easy it can be to take this life for granted.

In May, a group of medical staff from Edward-Elmhurst Health participated in a medical mission trip to Lebanon sponsored by the Syrian American Medical Society.

Dr. Madhavi Ryali, a nephrologist with Elmhurst Hospital and Nephrology Associates of Northern Illinois, described the trip as “an awakening.”

The team traveled to Bekaa Valley, a farming region 20 miles outside of Beirut near the border of Syria. They used their skills to provide care for Syrian refugees.

We feel so strongly about the cause, Edward-Elmhurst Health encouraged the team to travel without using their vacation time. Elmhurst Hospital also contributed $5,000 toward medication, surgery and catheterization lab expenses, a sum that was matched by its medical staff.

Last fall, Dr. Victoria Uribe, a pediatrician with Elmhurst Clinic, completed her fourth medical mission to Rivas, Nicaragua for Healing the Children.

“Traveling to Nicaragua I see parents who want the same thing that my patients’ (families) in the U.S. want – for their children to be healthy and grow up to be happy and successful adults,” Dr. Uribe says of the trip. “Unfortunately, these (poorer countries) don’t have the resources that we do.”

I’ve been lucky enough to participate on past mission trips to Bosnia. I even took my kids with me when they were younger.

You’re never the same after a trip like that. Seeing another part of the world that doesn’t have the same resources, from healthcare to education to employment – you truly appreciate what we have in the U.S.

We here at Edward-Elmhurst want to be good citizens, not just in our hospitals and our communities, but of the world.

Some say you can’t help everyone. My attitude is, if you can help one person, you’ve made a difference.

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