Nephrologists in humanitarian relief work: My two cents
Participation in humanitarian relief work is not uncommon among Pediatric and Adult Nephrologists. In fact, I have come to know some of my best friends in Nephrology in such occasions.
Typically earth quake relief has a high need for nephrology due to its associated trauma-crush injury, rhabdomyolysis, sepsis, etc. Other opportunities fall in the area of acute or chronic community exposure to nephrotoxic agents, as in Lead factories, pesticide use, etc. Both of the above situations also provide research opportunities.
In my particular experience, Haiti’s earthquake relief work thought me that anticipation, preparation, training and planning for both acute and chronic phases are imperatives.
I now believe that having seen what I did wrong on this pass will allow me to better participate, next time around.
First, I must have an already agreed, back up plan for service coverage in case the need arises suddenly. A nice group of committed physicians and nurses in the group is essential. Second, I must belong to a medical relief group that has a high degree of what I call “medical intelligence”. The group’s links and cooperation with military and national/international relief agencies are an absolute necessity. Third, the medical relief group and/or my self must have a place/locale or institution in the US or a neighbor country that would be willing and financially able to accept care for some of the chronic cases that may survive.
It may be a bit hard work, but its pay off is unparalleled.