Medical mission inspires North Central pre-health majors

Mar 13, 2013

Morgan Wichman ’14 always wanted to travel to Honduras with an optometrist from her hometown of Freeport, IL, for a medical mission. She decided this was the year to take a week in February for the mission—if she could find friends to travel with. It didn’t take long for three North Central friends to say “I’m in” and make plans for the World Gospel Outreach-sponsored trip.

“I work at an optometry office during school breaks and my boss there, Dr. Dale Kaney, has been doing this trip for 20 years,” says Wichman, a biology major who wants to become an optometrist. Wichman has experience performing pre-tests on patients for glaucoma, visual field screenings and using the autorefractor, all useful skills in an undeveloped country like Honduras.

Joining her on the trip were Mackenzie Goralski ’14, a biology major who wants to become a physician assistant; Macayla Yount ’14, a psychology major who wants to become an occupational therapist; and Cameron Anderson ’14, a biology and psychology major who’s interested in a health field like radiology or neuroscience. The North Central students were part of a larger health care team that provided medical, dental and eye care to 2,254 people in one week at two different sites in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. They stayed at a mission house that’s available to volunteers.

Wichman helped perform optical tests and hand out eyeglasses that team members brought with them in their 30 trunks of supplies. “We’d give glasses to someone who needed a strong correction—and they’d cry because they could finally see,” she says.

Goralski helped dispense drugs and vitamins from the portable pharmacy, took blood pressure readings and cleaned wounds. “We saw conditions like scabies and ringworm that you don’t see in the states,” she says.

Yount worked with the children in ministry activities and helped translate for the group; she was the only North Central student who spoke Spanish. “They were so appreciative when I spoke Spanish and the children wanted to practice their English,” she says. She and others also assisted with treating children for head lice, a common health problem. 

Anderson spent time working on a construction project—pouring a concrete floor for a home that only had a dirt floor—and helped wherever else she was needed. “There is such a stark contrast there between poor and rich,” she says. “People would walk for miles with little children to get help.”

All four students would like to return next year if they can work out the logistics. “Our professors were really helpful and cooperative,” says Goralski.

Yount summarized the feeling among the group:  “We didn’t want to leave. Our hearts are in Honduras—it’s a special place.”