2017-03-17 / Family

Local doctors extend helping hands

Team prepares for 10-day medical trip to Honduras
By Caitlin Trude

INTERNATIONAL AID—Moorpark resident Dr. Edward Chambers, a pediatrician at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, will embark on his fifth medical trip to Honduras in August. Courtesy of Edward Chambers INTERNATIONAL AID—Moorpark resident Dr. Edward Chambers, a pediatrician at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, will embark on his fifth medical trip to Honduras in August. Courtesy of Edward Chambers When Dr. Edward Chambers embarked on his first medical mission to Honduras five years ago, he was stunned by the hundreds of patients who traveled for hours on foot to see him.

“It was extraordinary and nothing like I experienced before,” said Chambers, a pediatrician at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. “Although there are people in need in our community, there’s a different kind of vulnerability when you’re in such a remote region of the world, and I think that’s what struck me the most.”

Inspired by that trip, the Moorpark resident in 2013 launched the Los Robles Honduras Mountain Medical Team, a local volunteer group comprised of doctors, nurses and high school students that brings aid to those living in remote communities.

The team partners with Friends of Barnabas, a nonprofit dedicated to providing quality medical care to Hondurans who don’t have access to it.

In August, Chambers will again take a team of about 20 volunteers to Honduras for 10 days. This will be his fifth trip to the country.

During these trips, Chambers and his team will often treat patients with skin problems, fungal infections, stomach issues related to chronic dysentery, heart disease and even the Zika virus.

The patients’ bad living conditions, poor hygiene and lack of clean water and nutritious food cause additional health problems.

“It’s such a contrast for us because in our lives, we tend to be much more (preoccupied) with the problems that we think we have,” he said. “We really don’t have problems like many people in the world do.”

“We see anywhere from 200 to 300 patients in a day that would otherwise not have access to medical care,” said Dr. Carlo Reyes, a medical director at Los Robles.

This will be Reyes’ fourth trip to Honduras with Chambers.

Over the years, the doctors have brought their wives and teen children to serve in Honduras; Reyes has four daughters, and Chambers has three sons.

“It was really interesting to see (my) teenager, the way he was moved by the people he met and the children he connected with (and) to see the joy that he experienced when he was in a service role,” Chambers said.

“Each year, the team waiting list gets bigger after people hear about what we’re doing and how we impact and help others,” Reyes said. “(The students) use it as a means not just to satisfy their volunteer requirements but to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Reyes said volunteering in Honduras has made him a better doctor.

“Probably the thing that compels me the most is really connecting to patients on a level that really restores (the reason) why I became a doctor in the first place,” he said. “I get to share this feeling whenever we have a new team.”

Chambers agrees.

“I find that the nurses and doctors that come with us, they really grow as healthcare providers,” he said.

Looking ahead, Reyes said the team hopes to increase the number of teams Los Robles sends out to other nations.

“We are evaluating other places throughout the world to send teams, including places in India and places in Ukraine,” he said.

How to support

The Los Robles team’s goal is to raise $25,000 for the medical supplies it will bring to Honduras.

The team will host a fundraiser, West Fest 2017, from 3 to 10 p.m. Sun., April 30 at Foxfield Ranch, 1250 E. Potrero Road, Westlake Village.

The event will feature live music, a country barbecue from Wood Ranch, games for families and a silent auction.

To donate items for the silent auction, send an email to sujin@ health-e-medrecord.com. To buy tickets for the fundraiser, visit www.eventbrite.com/.

Tickets are $75 for adults, $20 teens and free for children 12 and younger.

For more information about the team, search “Los Robles Honduras Mountain Medical Team” on Facebook.

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