This trip will be the first of many working with Health Bridges International to create a pilot project to demonstrate the community-based Family Medicine residency training model to share ideas and promising practices that are evidence-based and rigorously administered. There is an opportunity to use collaboration to be a multi-national training program and a model for training family physicians around the country of Perú. Health Bridges International (HBI) works to build bridges of collaboration within extremely impoverished and marginalized communities. They are dedicated to sustainability and the development of projects that realize long-term change. To this end, HBI connects resources to needs through innovative programs, leveraged with integrated technology solutions and projects that build local- level change agents. The work of HBI is grounded in the Four Pillars of of Bridge Building: Training, Consulting, Connecting and Serving (HBI, State of the Organization, 2019).
The community of Alto Cayma is located in Arequipa, Peru. By working with the continuity clinic there, the people in the immediate area would benefit from evidenced-based consistent primary care. Currently, there are only about a dozen Family Medicine Residency training slots in the entire country of Peru. Our hope is that over time, through collaboration with Family Medicine residency training programs in Peru, there will be a greater downstream impact in improving the delivery of primary care in other communities throughout the country.
Health Bridges International (HBI) is already in the initial stages of developing a graduate medical education program at an outpatient, community-based clinic in the area of Alto Cayma, just outside of Arequipa, Peru. Health Bridges International has a 20+ year partnership with the Catholic Priest (Father Alex Busuttil) who runs the clinic. For a number of years, they’ve provided CME, conferences, and technical support to the clinic. However, recently they’ve come to a clear conclusion that a more concerted effort toward the formalization of a Family Medicine training program will have greater long-term impact and sustainability. With the establishment of a residency training program this clinic will impact not only the local community but also future residents and their patients all over Peru.
The community is a part of Father Alex's parish and includes some 30,000 people. Many of the people living in Mujeres de Esperanza are building new lives for themselves. They are working and saving - they are steadily putting the pieces together for a more solid future.
Some of the people living in Arequipa are in extreme poverty. For these people - Father Alex, Health Bridges International and Long Beach Memorial have started a Health Community Project. It is a program that is facilitated by a social worker, local and international Doctors to provide help and find resources to support people with their most critical needs. It is a "bridge program" that serves people by filling a gap or addressing a challenge.
Many of the people who are receiving support are single mothers who are struggling to find the resources to care for their families.
The team participated in community "house visits" with the social worker from Father Alex's parish and a group of Doctors. In groups, we visited homes and talked with people about their needs and ways the Solidarity Project can help. The home visits are for many volunteers the highlight of our time in Arequipa.
The time with HBI will surely stay with us for the remainder of our lives.