Typically, Haley Neahr, PA-C can be found treating patients at a private practice outside of Dallas. Every now and then, she gets a chance to take her skills as a Certified Physician Assistant to help others a world away.
In the summer of 2019, Neahr made the journey to Webuye, Kenya. This was her second trip to the small village in just two years.
“I loved it so much the first time, I couldn’t wait to go back with the group,” said Neahr of her medical mission abroad. “I’ve always wanted to do this.”
Neahr and three dozen other Americans served the Kenyans through Compel Outreach International. Every summer, the group of medical professionals runs a clinic in the small underserved community, taking care of their medical needs. The team took vital signs, performed HIV and pregnancy tests, and handed out toothbrushes at the dental clinic.
“[We] gave instructions on how to use a toothbrush. Most of them had never owned one and had no idea how to use it,” said Neahr.
For some villagers, the medical clinic run by Neahr and COI was their only option.
“One patient came to us with very severe malaria, a temperature of 103, mental status changes, and severe hydration,” said the PA-C. She had walked several miles to the clinic to be seen because she did not have the money to visit the nearest hospital.”
Neahr and her team of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals treated the woman with IV fluids, injectable malaria medication, and acetaminophen—all of which they carried with them on the flight from the United States. They had just about everything they needed to treat the patient. Everything except for an IV pole. But the quick-thinking PA-C helped them come up with a solution.
“We were able to use some wire from a nearby fence to hook the IV bag to the top of the tent she was resting under,” explained Neahr.
After spending 10 hours at the clinic, the woman was well enough to leave. The missionaries paid for a taxi to take her home so she would not have to walk all those miles again.
Neahr is certain the medical care she and her team provided saved this woman’s life.
“She should have gone to the hospital, but couldn’t afford it. She was in such bad shape that if our clinic had not been there, she would not have made it through the night,” said Neahr of the humbling experience.
“We so often take for granted the access to health care we have in the United States. I want to encourage more physician assistants to leave their comfort zone and provide health care to those who need it most.”