Dr. Clevens travels abroad at least twice per year setting aside 2-3 weeks for each trip from his busy Central Florida private practice to care for the world’s neediest and most neglected.
‘I have journeyed to Africa on three occasions in that last 18 months to unite with other medical professionals for humanitarian missions of healing and hope. Our time and skills bring free medical, surgical and dental care to the Singida Region of Tanzania, East Africa through Outreach Africa (www.outreachafrica.org).
Outreach was created in 2004 when its founders, Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, returned from a trip to Tanzania on a construction mission. During that trip they experienced the death of many children from hunger and related diseases Outreach focuses on developing services in the area of water, food, medicine, and education recognizing that educating a child or a village is impossible while the lack of water, food, and medical services exist.
The Singida Regional Hospital where we deliver care is nothing like our notion of a hospital. It is a cinder block building that provides its patients with a tattered foam mattress atop a metal frame. Patients and their families must bring their own linens, food and use one of only two available toilets for 165 patients.
There is no running water, electricity or city sewage. The nurses dispense oral medications that are in short supply and do not know how to start or maintain an IV. The hospital is merely a place to convalesce.
Our medical team has become self-sufficient and we arrive with a full complement of medical and surgical supplies and medications that permits us to see nearly one thousand patients in our typical week. Over the years, through generous donations and support, Outreach has received vital equipment such as surgical instruments, otoscopes, ophthalmoscopes and anesthesia machines that remain in Singida with the national Tanzanian physicians and are available for our use while we are in residence.
The mission brings great personal fulfillment and professional rewards as a facial plastic surgeon. While in the East African nation, there is a broad array of maladies requiring surgical correction of great benefit to our patients: cleft lip and palate, burns, contractures, keloids, trauma, congenital cysts and other afflictions of the head and neck
From a personal perspective I have found the Tanzanian people to be extraordinarily grateful and appreciative of our efforts. The national physicians are gracious and zealous to learn of American medicine. I have formed important connections with Tanzanian nationals through my travels. Further, I shared the mission trip experience with my teenage sons who have traveled to accompany me in Tanzania, bringing us closer together as a family.
I have been so struck by the resourcefulness of the Tanzanian people and their capacity for gratitude and appreciation that I have formed a foundation, Face of Change, that aims to further the medical care and education of underprivileged children in developing and third world nations.’
-Ross A. Clevens, MD, FACS