Hundreds of patients stand, sit and lie outside the Bugobero Clinic in Uganda. They are willing to wait hours for medical care and follow up by Dr. Adolfo Mesa (pictured on the right) and other staff. In Uganda the physician who practiced for 22 years in his native Columbia deals with a variety of illnesses and health conditions doctors seldom see in the United States.The Ugandan clinic is literally a world away from National College’s $$ROANOKE VALLEY Campus in Salem where Dr. Mesa got additional training in National’s medical assisting program.
At Kissito Healthcare International’s Bugobero Health Center IV, Dr. Mesa and staff have seen as many as 483 patients in one day. He has removed a huge ovarian cyst by laparotomy from 37-year-old woman, saved babies and toddlers severely emaciated from malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and AIDS, and set broken bones.
“I am using the medical assisting degree to assist me in many areas of my current practice, such as surgical procedures, sterilization and aseptic techniques, lab analysis and phlebotomy,” Dr. Mesa explained. Classes in Microsoft Office and medical office procedures provided him “with skills to communicate by computer to my headquarter’s office in Roanoke and to fill out medical files every day,” he added.
Dr. Mesa chose National College for its medical assisting program. He and his wife, Consuelo, who is a nurse, relocated to the Roanoke Valley almost four years ago. They lived near National’s Salem campus where he studied from June 2008 to May 2010.
The 51-year-old had the additional challenge of learning English. Understanding, speaking and writing English was important not only in his college studies, but also in his work in Uganda where English is an official language, along with Swahili.
One way Dr. Mesa practiced English was by volunteering at Kissito Healthcare Botetourt in Fincastle; and he also went through intensive English language training, explained Elizabeth Parsons, director of development for Kissito Healthcare International.
Parsons met Dr. Mesa through Con Mays who met the Mesas through the church they all attend in Roanoke and its outreach work. Serving His Children is one of Kissito’s partners. She and Kissito CEO Tom Clarke chose Dr. Mesa to go to the Bugobero clinic because “We were looking for a physician with experience in rural medicine” in Columbia, Parsons said. The Bugobero is one of seven international hospitals Kissito either runs or is in partnership with the government.
Kissito is considering sending Dr. Mesa for more training, and might deploy him elsewhere in Africa, she added. “I will serve as long as the medical organization requires my health services in Bugobero,” Dr. Mesa said. “I will also be assigned to places where natural disasters occur.”
Putting his experience and the training he received at National College into practice in a developing country has shown him what a difference basic medical care can make. “After learning how the Ugandan people live and especially the Bugobero population where I work, I can assure you that medical programs in the United States are far superior to those here. If you only have minimal knowledge, you can be of great assistance in Uganda at the Kissito Bugobero clinic by delivering babies, giving CPR to newborns, putting in and removing stitches, giving first aid, providing medications and discharging and referring patients.
Dr. Mesa encourages his fellow students and graduates from National to volunteer at Kissito’s Bugobero Clinic for a short time, where as of mid-December, the medical wards were completely full and as a result, patients were sleeping out on the floor. He added, “You will quickly learn how it is possible to improve and save lives on a grand scale.”