For 15 years, Robert Magee (pictured above with Melissa) has helped bring medical and dental services to Jamaican communities in need. As a member of the Board of Trustees and a retired hospital and army reserve chaplain, Robert says, “I always felt the need to give back. I knew this was something I could do.”
Earlier this month, Robert and 51 health professionals, including Certified Diabetes Educator Melissa Zalonis brought much needed medicine, treatment, education and dental services to nearly 2,000 Jamaicans. For 10 days, mission volunteers worked tirelessly running three to four clinics per day. The group treated 1,999 patients, wrote 4,000 prescriptions, educated hundreds on proper diet, and performed 550 dental procedures.
“I’ve always had a passion to serve in underdeveloped countries,” admits Melissa. “I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity.” Melissa’s role was to provide diabetes basic care and education. She performed blood glucose checks and educated patients on the importance of taking medication, eating right and being active. “One of the best parts of the trip was educating a group of Jamaican nursing students,” she says. “By teaching them, we are creating a sustainable program where local healthcare professionals can be more effective in disease prevention and treatment.”
While the mission volunteers work to provide medicine, treatment and education, there are still challenges to overcome. Without continuous care, access to medications and proper nutrition, diabetes, high blood pressure, low protein diets and severe tooth decay continue to cause health issues in these communities.
When Robert reflects on the work the mission is doing, he says, “It’s a very rewarding experience. We are making a difference.”