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Extending the Mission of Prevention

Improving the quality and quantity of a person’s life is something Cooper Clinic physicians strive to do daily. But they’re not just making a difference in Dallas─they’re sharing their expertise and patient care in a country more than 6,000 miles away.

Each year, Cooper Clinic President and Chief Executive Officer Camron Nelson, MD, travels to Braila, Romania, with ServingHIM, a Dallas-based ministry group. The group provides medical and dental services to those in need in the eastern European community of more than 206,000 people. The ministry sends several teams to Romania, Guatemala and Moldova each year.

“The ministry provides medical and dental services, but we also engage in training TheCooperized_September2018-Blogopportunities for doctors and dentists in Romania,” says Nelson. “We’re trying to invest in the future generation of physicians and dentists to increase their capabilities and surgical skills. Our teams are also very engaged in advancing spiritual health in the surrounding communities through our partnership with the local churches.”

While the dentists stay busy performing restorative services and extractions, physicians are diagnosing and treating a plethora of health conditions.

“There’s a huge problem with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes in Braila,” says Nelson. “I spend a lot of time diagnosing and treating those issues while also teaching the patients, like I do here in Dallas, about the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Cooper Clinic Dermatology Director Rick Wilson, MD, FASDS, FABVLM, has also participated on multiple occasions and is often busiest of all the medical team.

“They don’t have dermatologists in that part of Romania,” says Nelson. “Dr. Wilson will see skin conditions there he’ll seldom see treating patients in Dallas because the issues have gone untreated for such a long time.”

“We see patients with fungal infections, commonly, plus skin cancers, benign skin growths, psoriasis and a host of other issues,” adds Wilson.

On the first day of the trip, ServingHIM hosts a health fair, consisting of free screenings for blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Dentists also screen for diseases of the mouth and educate community members about the importance of smoking cessation and dental hygiene.

“We’ll set up on a Saturday morning and people start lining up around 6 a.m.,” says Nelson. “The medical team arrives at 8 a.m. and we’ll see approximately 300-600 people by 2 p.m. It’s a great way to reach out to the community.”

It’s a long, busy day, but one many in the community patiently await.

“Some people wait all year just to come see us because they know American doctors have a high standard of care,” says Nelson. “They value the fact that we take good care of them.”

Diaconia clinic started 20 years ago as a one room clinic with one doctor and a small staff. The clinic is a ministry outreach of Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Braila. Since partnering with ServingHIM, Nelson says the clinic has grown into a four-story building.

IMG_3361The Romanian physicians and dentists saw close to 19,000 patients in 2017, augmented by several medical and dental teams from the United States throughout the year.  The pharmacy at Diaconia provided approximately 16,000 free prescriptions in 2017.

Each ServingHIM team also stays busy with community outreach activities such as vacation bible school, goat ministry (providing goats to needy families) and local school outreach to teach dental hygiene.

IMG_3222Nelson travels to Romania twice a year, once in June to lead a medical/dental team and again in February as part of the Diaconia Board of Directors. The summer trip is approximately 10 days and the team usually provides needed services to several hundred patients during that time. Clinic days often run 10-11 hours each day.

“I always arrive home pleasantly exhausted,” says Nelson. “All of the volunteers, including myself, come home feeling extremely fulfilled.”

“It’s wonderful to give to others without expecting or receiving anything in return,” says Wilson. “Our journey there is just a gesture of love and compassion.”

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