How To Perform A Remote Medical Mission

Ok, so you want to come to Africa and set up a temporary clinic that treats people, witness to them about Jesus, and leaves a lasting impact, but you have less than a week on the ground. What do you do?

1. Identify a group who can do follow up. This is the MOST IMPORTANT PART and should be done months in advance. If you share the Gospel with someone, there must be follow up and discipleship. Ideally, if there is medical treatment, there should be a local doctor who can also follow up. If God doesn’t open a door for follow up, consider cancelling your plans and visiting an area where follow up is possible.

2. Keep a little money in your budget reserved just in case there is a dying patient that require going to a hospital for treatment you cannot preform. There isn’t anything more heartbreaking than sending someone home with an eight year old who you know is going to die in 24 hours.

3. Before even getting started, never over commit. There is nothing worse than allowing someone to stand in line for 3 hours and then sending them home without medication and counselling. Especially a dying patient.  Make sure you know your limits and draw the line before the doctor even arrives.

4. Once you hit the ground, appoint one person as administrator. Today, this was my un-appointed job. This person stands back and makes sure each person is doing their job, and trains them how to do it properly. If someone get’s tired, the administrator can swap them out with someone who has a less demanding task. This person is also in charge of serving staff plenty of water, scheduling for breaks and snack times, watching medicine supplies dwindle, deciding when the clinic should close, and intervening when a problem breaks out in crowd management. This is a full time job. It doesn’t require a medical degree, but it helps if they have one.

5. Appoint 1-4 people as a greeters/crowd control managers. Their job is to walk up the street as people approach the clinic, greet them and hand them off to a person in charge of Triage. They continue greeting people and acting as greeters until crowd problems/arguments/misunderstandings arises. When problems arise, the administrator tells them to stop greeting, and it becomes the greeters job to get all the crowd organized and under control. When patients are not complying, they need a translator to understand the issue.

6. Appoint someone for Triage. This is nothing extravagant.  The greeters bring people to the triage person. Then triage person writes their name down  and makes sure the line stays in order based on who was first. The Triage person has the liberty to place serious cases at the front of the line. This person has no office, they just stand out in the open field with a sheet of paper and a pen.

7. You must somehow rope off a clinic to help with crowd control. Because our clinic was far out into the bush, we had nothing but a box of medication and our hands. No chairs, no examination tables, no walls, nothing. We sectioned off our clinic by parking our motorcycles in a square. You need two gaps, one for patients to enter and one for patients to exit. The exit needs to be on the opposite side of the sectioned off area so there is no confusion.

8. Locals usually bring us a few chairs and a table from their homes to place inside the motorcycle clinic.

9. Appoint 2 people for prayer who stand at the clinics exit. They pray over each person, ask them if they need counselling, and ask them if they know Jesus. After they know the situation and have prayed with them, they hand them off to a hostess who takes them to the correct small group.

10. The hostess takes the people who have seen the doctor to the appropriate small group based on what they need. For example, a young women with a baby would go to the women’s small group. When the hostess hands her off to the women’s small group, she tells the leaders of that small group what counselling needs to be done. Then the leader can have someone take her to the side and meet that need and then add her back to the general group.

11. You need to have a small group for men, a separate one for women, and a separate one for children–mainly because of cultural issues. Each small group needs 1-3 translators. The small groups are where the gospel is shared, where people are counselled, and taught about following Jesus. Sometimes, these small groups can multiply into smaller small groups that deal with different issues–women who know Jesus but need counseling, women who don’t know the gospel, and those who need education regarding hygiene.

12. You need teachers who lead the small groups. Each small group needs 1-4 teachers. There is one main teacher who teaches the group, and the rest of the teachers pull patients out of the group based on the information the hostess shares with them so they can meet individual needs that are not met by the general lecture. These teachers will all need translators.

13. Appoint at least 1-2 people to be in charge of baptisms. If people commit to following Jesus, a teacher should explain baptism, and if they want it, the teacher leaves the group and takes them to the baptism area. The person baptizing others should be indigenous because local water sources are very dangerous if your body sin’t use to everything living in it. After Baptism, they can go back to a small group and continue being taught by a teacher.

14. Never send someone home empty handed. Either see every patient in the line, or have something to show appreciation to those who are left that don’t see the doctor (water filters, etc). As the day progresses, if their appears to be too long of a line, stop triage and start having one or two teachers start teaching at the lines so that everyone hears the gospel and is counselled by the time they see the doctor, so that you can leave as the last patient enters the clinic.

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