On National Doctors’ Day, we honor all physicians and express our gratitude for their dedication to their patients and commitment to our profession. This year, we also want to bring special attention and thanks to the many doctors and other clinicians who, in addition to their day-to-day contributions in their practices, generously volunteer their skills and time and open their hearts and wallets to help those in need.
Humanitarian Medical Missions
In previous posts, we have spotlighted some of our physicians who have joined humanitarian missions overseas. For example, pediatric anesthetist Richard Berlin, MD is the associate chief medical officer for Operation Smile, which delivers free surgical care to patients in more than 60 countries. In 2015, Dr. Berlin led Operation Smile’s inaugural obstetric fistula repair mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, joined by Sheridan anesthesiologist Dr. Jean Miles, Sheridan obstetrician Dr. Julie Kang and other medical volunteers from around the world. In March 2016, Drs. Berlin and Miles led another mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo to perform more obstetrical fistula repair surgeries. And in June, 2016, Dr. Berlin traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, where he and other volunteer physicians and nurses performed 93 surgeries to repair cleft lips and cleft palates in less than five days. He has participated in more than 25 missions with Operation Smile so far.
Drs. Richard Berlin and Jean Miles with two of the patients they helped during Operation Smile missions
We’ve also shared the twice-a-year, five-day surgical missions to the Dominican Republic for which Francisco Alvarez-Gil, M.D., Chairman of Anesthesiology at Sheridan partner Bayside Ambulatory Center in Miami, Florida, has been helping to recruit teams of volunteer anesthesiologists and surgeons for the past several years. These surgical teams perform badly needed surgeries for underserved populations in rural areas. During last June’s mission, the team performed 60 operations on 1200 adult and pediatric patients in three days.
The head of the Sheridan Anesthesia Group at Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg, Florida, Chief Anesthesiologist Albert Kabemba, MD, has a motto he often shares with his team: “It’s always important to remember that there’s more to life than medicine.” He and the rest of his leadership team-Vice Chief Anesthesiologist Jaime Mercado, MD, Chief CRNA Erik Rauch and Vice Chief CRNA Kelly Wier-plan frequent team-building activities outside the hospital for the group’s 25 CRNAs and 10 anesthesiologists. Some of these are just for fun, e.g., an excursion to a new indoor skydiving facility, while others focus on being of service to those in need in nearby communities. Twice in December 2015 and again in December 2016, members of Bayfront’s anesthesia department and some of their family members volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul’s Food Kitchen in St. Petersburg to help feed hundreds of poor, hungry and homeless individuals during the holidays. This is now an annual activity for the department.
December 2015 — Bayfront Anesthesia Group members and family members serving those less fortunate at St. Vincent de Paul’s Food Kitchen
When one of their CRNAs, Brandon Davis, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) last year, the group quickly rallied to support him, joining the MS Walk 2016 in Largo Central Park and raising more than $3,100 in donations to help find a cure for MS.
Bayfront Health Anesthesia Group’s “Team Davis Attack” at the 2016 MS Walk
The department has also adopted Mrs. Seabaugh’s third grade class at Campbell Park Elementary School. Campbell Park Elementary, which is just two blocks from the hospital, is in a poor neighborhood and ranked 2,064 of Florida’s 2,072 elementary schools in 2016. On November 16, as part of Pinella County Schools’ Great American Teach-In event, a group of Bayfront’s anesthesiologists and CRNAs visited Mrs. Sebaugh’s class and gave a presentation about what they do. They brought surgical masks, hats and gloves for the kids to wear and made it fun as well as interesting for them to learn about the anesthesia profession. The students were thoroughly engaged during the entire visit and didn’t want it to end. This was an extremely positive and meaningful experience for the Bayfront volunteers as well, which led to the department’s “adoption” of Mrs. Seabaugh’s class. They bought a toy bank that is brought to the weekly department meetings so anesthesiologists and CRNAs can make regular contributions. Rauch explained, “We tell everybody that if they can put in just a dollar each per week, we’ll have more than enough to provide the school supplies that the kids in Mrs. Seabaugh’s class need.” The Bayfront anesthesia department now makes regular visits during the class’s lunch period to serve as reading mentors and bring a treat, such as pizza. They also played Secret Santa in December, asking the kids for a wish list and then purchasing and delivering a gift for each student. “Every time we walk into the classroom, they get so excited,” said Rauch.
Members of Bayfront Health’s Anesthesia Department during their first visit to Mrs. Sebaugh’s third grade class at Campbell Park Elementary School, which they “adopted” soon thereafter
There are many others like Drs. Berlin, Miles, Kang and Alvarez-Gil and Bayfront Health’s Anesthesia Group who go above and beyond to make a difference. We celebrate their generous contributions that make their communities, and the world, a better place.