January 22, 2014
Greetings Linfield post followers,
Today we toured the Mae Tao Clinic, a free medical care facility that provides thousands of Burmese refugees with health care services including malaria treatment, acupuncture, infection prevention, prosthetics and rehabilitation, eye care, reproductive health services, child health services, and several others. In addition to these health care services, the Mae Toa clinic serves as a training facility which provides community health worker training to advance the skills of workers, increase the numbers of workers in rural areas, and enhance the overall ethnic health care network. These aims are achieved by offering clinical internships, health assistant training, Health and Earth Rights (HEART) training, clinical workshops, and a Continuing Medical Education (CME) program.
Despite the extensive services available, our tour of the clinic revealed that the facility is still in need of several things. For example, walkthroughs of several departments revealed severe limitations on the number of beds and the availability of nursing staff. From an interview with one volunteer doctor, our group was told that diagnosing patients at the facility is especially challenging because of the absence of imaging and screening equipment. Furthermore, interviews with staff suggest that there is a divide in communication between volunteer doctors and other staff members.
The thorough tour of the Mae Toa Clinic and the interactions with staff members provided several conclusions for our study abroad group. First, the challenges that Burmese citizens encounter when seeking health care in Thailand provided a model for comparison with the United States health care model. In particular, comparing the facilities and services offered at the Mae Toa clinic with those offered at U.S. hospitals made many members feel very privileged and blessed. The simple access we have to comfortable and clean emergency rooms seemed extravagant compared to some of the rooms and conditions observed at the Clinic. Overall, this experience was very eye-opening.
Until the next post,