The Global Mission Partnership Task Force and Samaritans Now, an Episcopal medical relief program, have begun a joint initiative to foster and promote Healthcare Mission in the diocese. Healthcare Mission is a new term that encompasses a greater inclusivity in mission teammembers (ie. non-medical professionals, alternative therapies, etc.) as well as creating intentionality around the intersection of health and faith as we do mission in a Christian context.
Healthcare "Mission" vs. Emergency Medical Relief
The tsunami that washed away parts of Asia, the impact of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast of the United States, and the earthquake in Haiti have raised the issue of emergency medical relief to a broader audience. When we talk about emergency medical relief, we are typically speaking about first responders. In specific, emergency responders have professional training and certification in providing care in disaster situations. Organizations such as the Red Cross & Stone hearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO) offer certification courses. Training often involves things like how to make sure your environment is safe to work in, how to keep yourself safe and healthy working in a potentially dangerous environment, how to address emergency medical needs, and how to cope with the emotional challenges of functioning in a disaster area. Healthcare Mission, on the other hand, may encompassed ongoing, long term programs designed to raise the availability and quality of medical care in a target community or region.
What’s a Healthcare Mission … and why do some call it a “Medical” Mission?
Often, when we think in terms of “medical” missions, people have in mind doctors and nurses. The needs, however, may entail a much broader spectrum of healthcare professional training such as physical and occupational therapy, medical technology, psychological counseling, and so forth. As a way of ensuring that all healthcare professionals see a way in which to offer their skills through mission, many of us are adopting the term “healthcare mission.”
A recent healthcare mission trip to Haiti (April 2011) from Parish of the Epiphany, Winchester, MA, submitted the following report on their experience: Healthcare Mission Report (PDF Format). They also have a great blog on their recent trip at www.poehaitimission.blogspot.com
We also invite you to read our Manual for Healthcare Mission Leaders (PDF Format) for more resources on leading Healthcare Mission teams.