IMR medical and dental clinic projects include three basic components: acute medical care, acute dental care, and community health education. Our teams consist of a variety of medical and non-medical volunteers, including providers, dentists and dental staff, PAs, NPs, nurses, EMTs, non-medical personnel, and an IMR staff clinic director. The make-up of each team is unique and the services we provide to patients are, in part, specialized to meet the expertise within the team.
Medical Clinic Routine
Clinic hours vary depending on location. We strive to see as many patients as possible and, depending on the location, generally average between 100 and 500 patients per day. As in any acute care setting, some patients will be well and others very sick. IMR clinics treat patients using a variety of procedures, including wound care and sutures; respiratory and nebulizer treatments; patient hydration, including oral rehydration solutions and IVs; and more.
Each of our clinics has a basic a laboratory that provides a variety of testing, including UA, Hgb, malaria, pregnancy, glucose, HIV, and more. IMR provides education for patients living with chronic conditions, and assists patients with referrals to appropriate care centers and hospitals for long-term care.
Our non-medical staff fills a variety of roles in the medical clinic, including helping in pharmacy, helping with patient intake (history, vital signs), helping patients move from one part of clinic to another, helping physicians with patients in a variety of ways, and providing health educational classes.
Dental Clinic Routine
Dental clinics run simultaneously with the medical clinics, and patients frequently visit both clinics. Dental examinations, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and extractions are the primary procedures. Many dentists bring supplies for restorations as well. Oral health education is provided to all patients. The dental clinic is generally very busy and provides many opportunities for non-medical personnel to work, learn, and teach.
Community Health Education
Community Health Education is a primary, sustainable piece of our trip. We strive for every patient to receive at least 10 health education classes in addition to a medical and/or dental examination and treatment. Our goal is to provide patients with as much understanding of disease and how to prevent it, as well as how to stay healthy, as we can.
We focus on:
- clean water
- basic hygiene and sanitation
- skin infections
- mosquito illnesses and prevention
- cholera prevention
- heat exhaustion
- oral health and hygiene
- STD / HIV education
- safety courses
- female infections
- respiratory conditions
- women’s health
- family planning
- Choking and basic first-aid training for children and adults
In addition to prevention, we also provide education on how to correctly take the medications prescribed in clinic, recognizing symptoms for self-treatment, and the importance of hydration and rehydration.
We strive to partner with local medical and dental providers on every trip. This increases the continuity of care for the patients that we serve and is very important for improved community health. In addition, we look for partnerships with local medical and dental schools in order to have residency programs in our clinics. As a result of this, every clinic has a teaching focus. Our partnership with local providers creates valuable experiences for our team members and is a unique aspect of working with International Medical Relief. We have established great working relationships with our international counterparts.
Team education is another focus on IMR trips. We often have medical, dental, NP- PA, nursing, and EMT students on the trip, and we try to teach as much as possible during clinic hours. We also partner with local health care workers and they often work side by side with our team in clinic. This allows for educational exchanges in every facet of our trip.
The team debriefs each evening about what was seen in clinic. This is an opportunity for everyone to voluntarily share about what they experienced in clinic. It affords us the opportunity to discuss the daily events and brief about the next day. The Clinic Director also holds a morning briefing to describe the upcoming clinic, assign roles, and discuss safety procedures.
IMR brings all basic foundation medicines and supplies for clinic with us. Our volunteers are crucial partners with us and participate in this effort by collecting in-date medicines and supplies as they prepare for their trip. IMR teams, as well as the patients that we see, benefit greatly from any and all equipment, medications, and supplies that we can acquire.
IMR provides translators for all of our clinics. We work very hard to have excellent translators in sufficient numbers. We partner with our translators and they work with us because they have a strong desire to help their country and provide medical care to those unable to obtain care.
We also keep health statistics on all patients, which we share with the country we are working in. This is an important part of the role we play in the larger health care picture of the country hosting our team. IMR keeps many of the same statistics as the World Health Organization. We are currently increasing our statistical efforts because we are able to provide statistics on remote populations that do not receive regular care.
Many people interested in mission trips abroad have questions around security. We take security very seriously at IMR. As we prepare for our trips, we review all current activities occurring on the ground and we work with the State Department, our security team, and our in-country hosts to understand the ground situation to the best of our ability.
We have a security training conference call with our volunteers where we detail our security procedures that are in place for the trip. We take many security precautions such as using radios, a buddy system, and security planning. IMR has security policies and procedures in place for our teams adhere to for the safety of individuals and that of the team as a whole.