Hospital Supports Mission Work
Most weeks, Albany Medical Center’s Dr. Claudwardyne Thevenin and Saratoga Hospital nurses Stacey Batchelder and Jeni Roberts care for patients in the state-of-the-art Malta Med Emergent Care, a joint venture of the two hospitals. This winter, the healthcare colleagues left the high-tech equipment and comfortable setting behind to tend to orphans, refugees, and other patients in rural Haiti.
The trip was yet another example of how the two organizations—now officially affiliated—have come together in recent years to benefit patients in the Saratoga region and beyond.
Batchelder spearheaded the weeklong medical mission, which grew to include 11 volunteers. Most are on the staff of Saratoga Hospital or Albany Med. Some, including Batchelder’s and Roberts’ daughters, are studying to be among the next generation of healthcare providers.
Together, the group treated 307 patients. The youngest was a baby, delivered during an emergency birth. The oldest was a 108-year-old woman whose knees ached. Many patients had waited months for the chance to receive routine healthcare. Some had never seen a doctor before.
Scholarships Ease Costs
Mission participants volunteer their time and skills and typically pay for travel, meals, and accommodations. To help offset these costs and encourage employees who are interested in mission work, Saratoga Hospital offers a Medical Mission Scholarship. Batchelder and Roberts are two of the latest recipients.
In the months leading up to their trip, mission team members held fundraisers and collected supplies. Each arrived in Haiti with two suitcases filled with clothing, shoes, non-perishable food, medicine, and other healthcare-related supplies.
“The areas we traveled to are in such great need. People are lucky to get the most basic medications,” says Batchelder, who has gone on three medical missions to Haiti. “We are fortunate to have so much and to be able to share it.”
Roberts feels the same way. “The trip made me much more aware of how advanced our healthcare is and how much we take for granted,” she says. “In Haiti, our patients had to walk considerable distances or pay to get a ride to the mobile clinic. They lined up as soon as the clinic opened and waited without ever complaining.”
For Dr. Thevenin, the trip was one of what she hopes will be many. A native of Haiti, she has participated in medical missions in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. This latest mission was her first to a more rural area. “I would like to do this on a yearly basis, and will go wherever I’m needed most,” she says. “There’s a lot of personal growth in helping someone who cannot help you in return.”