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Cortlandt Manor, NY - (September 12, 2012) – Hudson Valley Hospital Center Physician Assistant Lindsay Aarstad didn’t know what to expect when she volunteered this summer to treat patients in a remote African village. But she quickly learned that she would have to overcome cultural differences to provide proper medical care to her new patients.
“It was an 18-hour flight and another 18 hours driving just to get there,’’ said Aarstad of her trip to Kansana, the tiny village in Tanzania where she and her father volunteered. “Most of these people had very little contact with medical treatment so it was very difficult. They would bathe, cook and wash clothes in the same water so even explaining the importance of clean drinking water was a challenge.’’
Aarstad and her father, Philip, pastor of the Oasis Church in Beacon, spent 10 days in June at the missionary clinic run by one the church’s parishioners. The "Upendo Wa Mungu Clinic," which translated means “The Love of God Clinic,” had just opened. She said it was little more than an empty building with very primitive facilities.
Aarstad and another physician’s assistant saw more than 300 patients in just two days, treating everything from minor aches and pains to gangrene and malaria. “We were very grateful for the supplies donated by Hudson Valley Hospital Center,’’ said Aarstad. “The pharmacy supplied antibiotics and medications and the staff sent toys for the children, bubbles and coloring books. It was really generous.”
Aarstad said dehydration was one of the most common problems she encountered, especially since locally distilled alcohol was more popular than water among the villagers. Her most challenging case, she said, was a man whose hand was so badly infected it had become gangrenous.
“The nearest hospital is about two hours away and there you have to pay for your medical care up front so we collected about $250 and sent him to the hospital for his care, which in this case was amputation,’’ she said.
Camping in the African bush without plumbing or running water was an adventure in itself. “Let’s say I was very happy to get back to hot water and showers,’’ said Aarstad.
Contributions to the clinic are tax deductible and can be sent to Oasis Ministries at 7 Delavan Avenue, Beacon NY, 12508. One-hundred percent of donations go directly to the Upendo Wa Mungu Clinic.
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Hudson Valley Hospital Center is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the community and to providing quality, comprehensive medical care in a compassionate, professional, respectful manner, without regard to race, religion, national origin or disease category. Offering state-of-the-art diagnostic treatment, education and preventive services, the Hospital is committed to improving the quality of life in the community. In fulfilling this mission, the Hospital will strive to continuously improve the care provided and develop and offer programs, facilities, systems and alliances that most effectively respond to community health care needs. Hudson Valley Hospital Center is located on Route 202 (1980 Crompond Road) in Cortlandt Manor, New York. For physician directory assistance please call 800-482-HVHC or visit www.hvhc.org.