As students settle into the new semester, about 355 residents of Yantaló, Peru are still benefitting from the medical care UCF students provided earlier this month.

MedPACt, UCF’s student-run global health organization and led by Dr. Judith Simms-Cendan, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the College of Medicine, organized the mission. Almost 30 people traveled to the rural and underserved district in Peru about 600 miles from Lima to provide medical care and in some cases surgery.

The UCF College of Medicine trip was the first to bring an interdisciplinary team approach to clinic care, and provided internal medicine, physical therapy, gynecology and general pediatric care. MedPACt coordinated the clinic with Fundación Yantaló, founded in 2005 by Dr. Luis Vasquez. Built as the first “green” clinic in the country, with open air ventilation and natural lighting, it was completely funded by donations and is designed to host medical missions. It is staffed by one primary care physician.

“Many patients traveled over four hours just to come to the clinic, so it was clear that there was a need,” said Arjun Patel, a second-year med student who helped organize the mission.

The trip was six months in the making and planned by the MedPACt board and their faculty advisor Dr. Simms-Cendan. The students had to fundraise, collect donated medications and attend pre-trip cultural and medical Spanish workshops. The team included 29 faculty and student volunteers from UCF College of Medicine, as well as teams from UCF’s physical therapy program, led by adjunct faculty Chris Doerger, and the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, led by Dr. Sven Norman. Dr. Juan Cendan, chair of medical education and professor of surgery at UCF College of Medicine and Dr. David Weinstein, assistant professor and physician at UCF Health, were among the accompanying doctors. In addition, Dr. David Simmons and Dr. Carmelo Licitra, College of Medicine affiliate and volunteer faculty, covered infectious disease, while Dr. Pam Murray from the University of West Virginia provided pediatric care.

MedPACt has made similar medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic, but this was the first time the team had access to surgical facilities. Dr. Cendan performed 14 hernia surgeries with the support of Dr. Jill Freedman, an anesthesiologist at the University of Florida, as well as students. The team hopes to be able to offer more surgical procedures in future trips with the aid of nursing faculty and students to help with the perioperative care.

Students used their medical Spanish skills to interview patients and received hands-on experience working one-on-one with faculty members in interprofessional teams. “Working with other specialties helped me better understand what each group does and made me comfortable referring patients to these services,” said Jacklyn Locklear, a second-year med student. “I was able to gain a new level of respect for each profession.”

Amer Jihad El Ghali, a UF pharmacy student praised the interdisciplinary training: “We are starting to see a shift in healthcare delivery in which we all work on a team, based on the patient centered model. That ultimately increases the quality of healthcare delivery to the patient, and I was able to see this first-hand working alongside medical students.”

The team also helped the Yantaló clinic initiate its electronic health record system, critical in tracking treatment and patient progress. The pharmacy team, a first at Yantaló, organized an outpatient pharmacy that will be safely maintained by Dr. Leon to support the community. In addition to medical care, Chaplain Linda Simmons, provided counseling and spiritual support for patients.

“It was an incredible interprofessional and service learning experience,” said Dr. Simms-Cendan. “We are so incredibly grateful for the support of all the donors and the College of Medicine who made this possible.”