Doing God's Work in Ndoombo
When I went on my first international service trip at the age of 15, I felt the distinct call of God on my life to use my talents and resources to make a difference in the lives of others, ” explained Dr. Valerie McKinnis of Durango, CO. “Global health was a big part of my decision to pursue a career in medicine. Over the past twenty-five years, I have been fortunate to serve people with my medical skills in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Tanzania.” And, the Ndoombo Community Dispensary has been fortunate enough to have Dr. Valerie as part of our Volunteer medical team.
Dr. Valerie first learned about MMTCH through Lamech Mbise, one of Exaudh’s brothers who lives in Colorado, at a presentation he gave about a global medicine project in Rwanda. “We went out for coffee afterwards and by the end of my cup I knew I had to visit Ndoombo. I have traveled there five times, with my family traveling with me on three of the trips. In 2017, all six of us hiked up to the top of Mt. Meru and slept in small tents outside the Mbise house at night, while working at the Dispensary during the day.
“One of the things I enjoy most on my visits is meeting the people. From the first time I visited, I felt very welcomed by the patients, the clinic staff, and the entire community. I love learning about the patients, hearing their stories, and understanding what impacts their health."
“The people in this community work so hard and often have so little in terms of material possessions. Despite the challenges they encounter, they are devoted to their families and community and are generous beyond belief. I am also deeply inspired by the dedicated clinic staff who graciously sacrifice much to serve their patients."
“During the recent trip in August of 2022, Exaudh Mbise and I focused on strategic planning with the clinic staff. We spent several hours identifying strategic priorities, goals, and success metrics for the next fiscal year. In partnership with the staff, we identified the following priorities for 2023: lab services, prenatal care, HPV and COVID vaccination, hypertension, and care for bedridden/homebound individuals."
“I also spent time observing the staff caring for patients and performing detailed workflow. Based on these assessments, we were able to identify common barriers to patient flow or optimal patient care. We made simple changes like changing the orientation of equipment in the exam rooms, creating a dedicated space and list of supplies for wound care, streamlining lab order entry forms, and installing soap and paper towel dispensers widely."
My vision for the future: “In the next few years, we need to expand services and provide care for more people. We are in desperate need of laboratory equipment that will enable our staff to provide basic diagnostic testing services on-site so that patients do not have to leave the community for care. We need to provide our staff ongoing opportunities for continuous education, leadership development, and training in evidenced-based practice. As chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension become much more prevalent in Tanzania, we must be at the forefront of chronic disease identification, management, and education in the local community.”