Harbin CMO, Daughter Care for Patients on Medical Mission Trip

A chance to help impoverished people both medically and spiritually brought Dr. Ed McBride and daughter Shannon to the Dominican Republic this summer.

The father-daughter duo, along with 30 others, spent a week helping more than 800 patients in early July.

Shannon, a recent Rome High School graduate, said she started thinking she might want to pursue working in the mission field. So instead of planning a summer trip to the beach, she began investigating a way she and her dad could go on a mission trip together.

Dr. McBride, Harbin Clinic’s Chief Medical Officer, is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, which has a non-profit ministry called Global health Outreach (GHO).

Shannon had her heart set on Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean. After doing some research, Shannon found a medical mission trip with GHO to the Dominican Republic.

Although it was a place far different than Rome, Dr. McBride agreed it would be a great place to open their hearts and hands to serving others together.

Take-Off To Hispaniola

On June 18, they embarked with a team of 32 people to the Dominican Republic. They traveled to Hato Mayor Province to serve Haitian migrants living in Bateyes. Bateyes are housing communities owned by sugarcane companies that are provided for the workers.

The mission trip team consisted of 10 physicians, three pharmacists, 13 first-year and second-year medical school students, two high school students and a few non-medical individuals.

Throughout their trip, they provided eye, dental, medical and pharmaceutical services through a mobile mass unit to three bateyes. On their travels, they brought everything needed to each location including chairs, tents, equipment and generators.  The team was flexible in how they set up their clinic, setting up as either a tent or occupying a local school or church building.

“The size of our tent space/school room was probably no larger than two office-sized rooms combined,” said Dr. McBride.

Their clinic was set up Monday through Friday for a week, opening at 8:30 a.m. and closing around 4:30 p.m. During the team’s off hours, they debriefed and had team meetings that included Bible studies, patient stories and daily preparations.

The whole team would fit within the space they had, occasionally making it a tight fit. However, the team made it work to care for the patients.

“By the end of the week we were practically all family,” said Shannon McBride.

Providing Health Care for a Multitude of Patients

Spending a day to a day and a half at each bateye, the team helped more than 800 patients. Each patient had a different case or medical need, but in only four clinic days the team was able to meet each individual’s need as best as they could for 847 individuals. 

“Having physicians from different specialties really helped the team care completely for the patients,” said Dr. McBride.

“I treated one patient who had a heart condition that would normally require hospitalization. The patient also had diabetes, atrial fibrillation, heart failure and was overweight, short of breath and fatigued,” Dr. McBride said. “I had to do my best to examine, diagnose and treat him without an EKG.”

The patient had been able to visit a local physician a few weeks prior. After paying to see the physician, he didn’t have any money to purchase the prescribed medications.

Dr. McBride went to the pharmacy and was able to acquire a two-month supply of some of the medications the patient needed.

Dr. McBride also treated two younger patients, a one-year-old and a teenager, who both had heart murmurs. Their condition required an echocardiogram.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have a portable echo at our clinic,” said Dr. McBride. “Knowing that we were ill-equipped to treat some patients with limited diagnostics was challenging, but also humbling.  We were able to connect them with a local pediatric cardiologist in Santa Domingo who could use an echo system to further diagnose their cardiac anomalies.”

The team encountered other technological barriers throughout their trips with many patients in need of equipment to produce scans, X-rays and other diagnostic tests. The team made it work through an effort between their clinic, local pharmacies and physicians to bring the necessary medical care to patients.

“There is a huge need for medical care in this part of the world, and I wanted to be able to meet that need with not only my experience and skills, but that of the whole team and partnering organizations for a holistic effort,” said Dr. McBride.

Prayers for Patients

Because Shannon plans to work with missions in the future, she not only shadowed physicians, checked blood pressure and assisted with the eye care services – she also ministered to patients.

“It was a joy to be able to talk with them about Jesus,” Shannon said.

“It helps to be able to build a relationship with the patients by attending to their medical needs, to talk about their religious beliefs and views on eternal life in a comfortable setting,” says Dr. McBride.

Dr. McBride shared how sometimes, when translating between three different languages (English, Spanish, and French-Creole), some words and ideas were lost in translation. This made ministering to patients a bit tougher.

“The language barrier was definitely a challenge, but having Creole-speaking individuals from the community and Spanish-speaking individuals from Oasis Church assisted in creating a three-way communication that really helped,” says Dr. McBride.

Blessings For The Bateyes

Shannon and her twin sister have been making shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, an initiative within Samaritan’s Purse that aims to provide needy children with a Christmas shoe box, for many years. Before the trip to Hato Mayor, Shannon hoped she would be able to personally take some boxes to deliver to the children of the bateyes.

Oasis Church received a shipment of Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes from Samaritan’s Purse the same week Shannon was there, and she was able to assist in giving boxes to the children.

“While I didn’t get to make the box myself and give it to the children, it brought me such joy to be able to give them a shoe box nonetheless,” said Shannon. “The children were so happy.”

Along with the shoe boxes she helped distribute, Shannon also brought other items to hand out.

“One day I handed out t-shirts I had brought from home to children as they came running to me,” said Shannon. “Although my contribution might seem small, it still made me happy knowing I could provide some sort of clothing for those who don’t have that much, or any at all.”

Shannon said some of the most memorable and rewarding parts of the trip were the times she spent playing with the children. Shannon split her days working in the mornings until lunch at the clinic, and playing soccer and having fun with the children in the afternoons.

“Their faith and eternal purpose was far more important than material things, and I could see that in the people,” said Shannon.

“They were truly happy people, and it was such a great opportunity to be able to attend to their medical and spiritual needs,” said Dr. McBride. “It was very rewarding to be able to give back to a part of the world so different than ours.”