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December 15, 2014

ThedaCare Provider Takes Skills to Third World Countries

Going to Haiti is like returning to a second home for Joe Lamb, MD, family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-New London.

Going to Haiti is like returning to a second home for Joe Lamb, MD, family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-New London.

Since 1990, Dr. Lamb has traveled on mission trips, most sponsored by Christ the Rock Community Church in Menasha. He puts his skills to use to provide health care for the residents who are often without proper care. “We have an ongoing relationship,” said Dr. Lamb. “A lot of people return.”

He recently returned from a 10-day trip that included himself, Christy Collin, Apryl Krueger and Tabitha Bucholtz, all from ThedaCare. “We had a good team,” he said, noting a number of ThedaCare health professionals who have taken time over the years to serve in Haiti.

Providers set up mobile clinics in the area around Hinche. They treated a range of medical issues from primary care to minor surgeries. They saw over 800 people. “We go pretty much routinely to the Hinche area,” he said. “We’ve been going there for a long time.”

Over the years, there have been some improvements to the local health care system in Haiti but Dr. Lamb finds that the team is busy. He enjoys the teams of people who come from all over the United States to help. And he enjoys the friendships that have formed, not only with the patients and locals but those on the team. “These teams are marvelous,” said Dr. Lamb. “I think that is what people miss when coming back. It’s kind of a great week of teamwork and working together in sometimes difficult situations.”

All those heads combined help with problem-solving situations like how to set up a clinic and manage the flow and order when there is nothing in place already. Even those on the team with non-medical experience have some valuable skill to offer on the trip. “It’s always funny how people’s skills are needed,” said Dr. Lamb.

Dr. Lamb has been to places like the Dominican Republic, Philippines and the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria. “I’ve always been interested in missions and Third World country medicine,” he said, noting he even made sure he would be able to take time off to go on regular mission trips.

Regular trips to Haiti just fell into place after he spoke with a doctor friend who mentioned the need for medical care in that country. Christ the Rock got involved and helps to sponsor the trips. “I go back for the friendships that we have established,” he said.

He is excited about a mission trip to the Amazon area of Peru next February. “We’ve never been there before,” said Dr. Lamb, noting the trip was created after a pastor from Milwaukee, whose wife is Peruvian, reached out to Christ the Rock. The Peru trip will include seven health care professionals from ThedaCare. Many on the team have also been to Haiti so he is excited to see the team’s dynamic expand into a new territory. “We will go down there, see what their needs are and see how we can help,” he added.

Dr. Lamb is grateful of the support from ThedaCare, from the system officials to his fellow providers, who have taken an interest in the mission trips. “I think the system has been very supportive of helping people,” he said. “That’s our mission as health care providers.”

The mission trips allow them to reach out and help others in different ways and different places. “The system has been very supportive of efforts both in the community and overseas,” said Dr. Lamb. “I think you see that reflected in the people who work for ThedaCare.”