NEWTON GROVE, North Carolina – While an interprofessional team from Campbell University provided healthcare to the people of Honduras during spring break, another team saw 300 patients – migrant farmworkers and their families – here in North Carolina.
Within an hour’s drive of the medical school campus in Buies Creek, there are 47 migrant farm workers’ camps. More than 4000 workers and their families live at these camps annually with little to no access to healthcare due to limited transportation. Two local clinics, one in Dunn and one in Benson, provide healthcare, but they are unable to fulfill the need.
Campbell University’s medical school has partnered with The Episcopal Farm Workers Ministry (EFWM) to fill the gap and provide healthcare to the workers and their families. EFWM provides transportation, delivers food and offers spiritual support, and the team of faculty and student volunteers provide healthcare.
“At CUSOM, we know we can make a difference by partnering with the Episcopal Farm Workers Ministry,” said Dr. Joe Cacioppo, Chair of Community and Global Health. “This spring, we traveled to three different communities and hosted clinics. We developed a warm relationship with these communities and affirmed our awareness of the need for us to come back on a regular basis. The people of these communities now understand how much we care. Through the hands of our students, God has shown them how much He loves them.”
The student team took complete patient histories, completed physical exams, and presented the patients’ cases to the attending physician faculty, and then, if necessary, wrote prescriptions. Additionally, Dr. Craig Fowler performed eye exams and taught students how to assess vision and fit and dispense reading glasses.
“We dispensed over 100 pairs of glasses provided by Blessings International,” said Dr. Fowler, chair of surgery. “Vision assessment is essential to medical missions because it immediately improves the patient’s quality of life, and it can be done with illiterate patients or without any translation.”
Campbell medical students have a heart for serving rural and underserved communities in keeping with the school’s mission.
“One of the essential values at CUSOM that struck my interest was the commitment to service. I primarily chose to attend CUSOM because of its mission and ability to provide medical services for underprivileged populations in the surrounding areas,” shared Mohamed Elshazzly, a first year medical student from New York. “I participated in the domestic mission in North Carolina to further develop my professional and medical skills and to directly lend a hand to the members of our community in need.”
“The students involved were so touched, they have committed to return to the camps,” said Dr. Cacioppo. “In collaboration with the Episcopal Farm Workers Ministry and CommWell Health, we are organizing to return at least one weekend monthly during the growing season.”
“Nothing can beat the genuine sense of satisfaction of helping our patients – especially if it involved the alleviation of their pain. Going on this trip reminded me that I chose the right path – medicine – and renewed my goals of becoming one of CUSOM’s leaders of change in healthcare within the community.”