Columbus, OH,
15:00 PM

OhioHealth Physician Lends a Helping Hand in Mexico

215 patients, 10 medical professionals, three days and 3,400 miles roundtrip. Nanette Lacuesta-Kimmel, MD,  OhioHealth family medicine physician and program director of the Physician Diversity Scholars Program, recently returned from a medical mission trip to Mexico.

“I recently went on a mission with the United Methodist Church," Dr. Lacuesta said. “I go to Trinity United Methodist Church in association with a group called Manos Juntas, which means Helping Hands. And it is an organization that is in Rio Bravo, Mexico, in the state of Tamaulipas.”

Their team included Dr. Lacuesta's father, who is a retired physician himself, and a few others from OhioHealth.

“When we decide that we're going to go, we raise the money and the funds that we spend in order to participate in the mission are used to provide the materials, the medications that we would need in order to staff the clinic and also to provide the medications for the patients," Dr. Lacuesta said.

Despite the geographical and cultural differences, Dr. Lacuesta found many similarities between the patients’ challenges in Mexico and those she encounters every day in practice.

“We saw everything from, you know, well-child examinations to upper respiratory infections, to pain, to needing second opinions," she said. "Patients are the same, mothers are the same, children are the same. Everywhere you go, they have the same concerns, the same symptoms, the same desires, the same need for help, advice, reassurance.

This trip not only had a profound impact on the communities served, but on Dr. Lacuesta herself.

“You feel really good about what you're doing and the impact that you're having and making a difference in people's lives,” she said. “But reflecting on what it is that many of our patients wanted from us, the things that we could provide were minimal compared to what we are capable of providing in the United States.”

And these challenges faced by the patients in Rio Bravo gave her a newfound appreciation for the resources available at home.

“The reassurance, the conversations, you know, vitamins, basic pain medications that are over the counter, you know, access to a lot of those things for many of the patients that we saw was difficult,” she said. “It really makes me think about how to be a great steward of the resources that we have and not taking them for granted.”

This passion shows through in her work at OhioHealth, bringing a caring touch to diverse patient populations and promoting diversity within the medical teams themselves.

“I think that the work that OhioHealth is doing in supporting programs like the Diversity Scholars Program is really important to supporting programs like the one that we did with Manos Juntas, but also in serving various communities right here at home," Dr. Lacuesta said.

Going on a mission trip is important work, but the impact doesn’t stop upon returning home. This trip was a turning point for Dr. Lacuesta, leading her to recognize the need to keep the mission going no matter where you are.

“You don't have to wait another year for that for the trip in order to be in mission," she said. "It's possible to be in mission all the time right here in your own community in different ways and serving communities that, also need your medical care and your support. There's so many opportunities to do that here.”

And you don’t need to be a medical professional to extend a helping hand.

“All you really need to do is be a human with a desire to want to help other people and to give up your time and your talents.”

To learn more about OhioHealth's Physician Diversity Scholars Program, click here.