Planes, trains and automobiles – it doesn’t matter which mode of transportation it takes. The medical team of Shriners Children’s is on a mission to share knowledge and provide care to patients across the world. Over the last 100 years, Shriners Children’s has treated more than 1.5 million children from more than 170 countries and provided education to healthcare professionals globally.
Through outreach mission trips, Shriners Children’s clinicians have taken it to another level, educating local medical teams in foreign counties. Long after Shriners Children’s teams return home, the local professionals can continue to care for the patients the way our team would.
After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, travel to international countries has resumed. Most recently, a team from several Shriners Children’s locations returned to Cyprus, an island country located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. While there, the team saw 143 patients. In addition to patients from Cyprus, children from various countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Greece and Turkey, attended the clinic. Medical students and faculty also attended lectures. Parents, caregivers, patients and volunteers expressed their gratitude to the Shriners Children’s team for traveling to provide world-class specialty care and creating an immediate impact.
Another team recently traveled to El Salvador to provide medical intervention to patients with scoliosis. While in El Salvador, the Shriners Children’s team trained groups of nurses using a mobile simulation lab the team brought with them.
“As we work to turn ‘treating more kids in more places’ into a far-reaching reality with extraordinary impact, clinics like the one we conducted in El Salvador serve as the model,” said Michael Wattenbarger, M.D., pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Physician Medical Group Leader, Shriners Children’s Greenville. “We are accomplishing much more than changing the lives of the children we’ve personally cared for in this immediate moment; we are training doctors and nurses there to continue the work we began far into the future. Making this undertaking even more achievable is the unwavering support of the Shriners in Central America. They are entirely dedicated to the mission of Shriners Children’s – and to bring that mission to the doorsteps of families in their home country.”
Learning on-site at Shriners Children’s
In addition to taking part in international teachings, our locations have welcomed others to learn within our facilities. Recently, Shriners Children’s Texas hosted Patricia Elizabeth Quezada de Calderón, M.D., and a nursing team from El Salvador to offer the latest training in burn care.
“It’s heartening to see the international collaboration taking place in the field of burn care,” said Mary K. Glendening, RN, MSN, FACHE, administrator, Shriners Children’s Texas. “This knowledge-sharing can significantly impact patient outcomes, especially in countries where resources and expertise may be limited.”
Burn injuries are a significant public health concern globally, and the Shriners Children’s team helps to ensure professionals have the skills and knowledge they need to provide the best care to their patients. “We want our patients to experience and receive the best care possible,” said Dr. Calderón from Benjamin Bloom’s Children’s Hospital in El Salvador. “We want to take back as much knowledge and teach our co-workers. We want to optimize what we have at our own hospital.”
Into the future
Receiving expert care close to home means so much to the families seen at our outreach clinics, and there are many more patients to see and lives to touch. “These international educational efforts are all part of Shriners Children’s mission to extend our reach by helping more kids in more places, now and in the future,” said Laura Kozloski, Ph.D., executive director of international strategy, Shriners Children’s.