Bringing Hope to Mongolia Through Medicine
By Dr. Sarah Coors, REI board member and short-term medical team member
In September, REI’s Director of Short-Term Medical Teams, Dr. Randy Otto (ENT), and Dr. Sarah Coors (Neonatology) travelled to Mongolia. They came at the request of REI country leaders, Gary and Scarlett Patton, to explore opportunities for REI to provide medical training.
The first week, they joined two other organizations to connect with specialists in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar (UB), teaching, operating, and building relationships with doctors in major hospitals in UB. That weekend, they participated in a conference on burnout for healthcare leaders, making several strategic connections with influential leaders in the Mongolian health system.
The second week, the Pattons connected with the Randy and Sarah in UB to enjoy a five-hour train ride north to Darkhan, not far from the Russian border. They were warmly received at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences in Darkhan with a reception and Q&A session at the hospital for all the medical staff, showcasing what REI could offer by way of collaboration with the hospital and university.
Randy and Sarah along with the Pattons had the opportunity to tour several medical facilities including the general hospital, a private ENT clinic, and several other family medical clinics, helping the doctors understand the medical care provided there and what types of outreaches REI could facilitate. They also had the opportunity to connect personally with many local doctors as well, all of which provided the framework for brainstorming future medical projects.
One of the interpreters for the tours recently finished medical school in Mongolia, with hopes of coming to the US for a residency program. She worked in Utah for a few summers to improve her English, making her a proficient translator, and she mentioned meeting many Mormons while she was there. This gave us the opportunity to discuss different religions and the significance of personal hope. In the end, she told us how much it meant to her to be able to discuss in English these deeper life topics.
Sarah stayed a few more days, during which she was able to do some home visits for friends with newborn babies, teaching the families about normal development and when to be concerned. She also taught a few lectures in the NICU for the staff on new guidelines regarding the treatment of jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia) and also the management of brain injury after birth (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy).
It is easy to see how Mongolia fits well into REI’s strategy training trainers in developing countries. Both Sarah and Randy anticipate future trips to here with REI to fulfill its mission of building people to build nations.