It is not often that a medical professional uses his or her skills to change the life of child abroad. But one Berkeley College instructor is doing just that. Joseph Charleman, Chair, Surgical Technologist and Surgical Processing Technician programs, School of Health Studies, recently traveled to La Romana, Dominican Republic, with a medical team that evaluated more than 300 patients and performed 50 operations on children needing major surgical procedures.
The volunteer pediatric surgical trip was organized by Healing the Children® New Jersey (HTCNJ), a nonprofit that provides access to medical care and related services for children in need in New Jersey and worldwide. Volunteer medical professionals travel at their own expense for the eight- to 10-day trips. The 16-person team that journeyed to La Romana with Mr. Charleman included surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists from Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, as well as administrative laypersons to manage logistics.
“The trip was focused on ear, nose and throat surgeries,” said Mr. Charleman, adding that he mostly worked in the post-anesthesia care unit with recovering patients. “It gave me an unbelievable feeling of life fulfillment. It was a life-changing experience and I cannot wait to return.”
This is not the first time Berkeley College has worked with HTCNJ. Last year, students and faculty members volunteered their time to count, package and sterilize medical equipment to be taken on upcoming medical missions. The opportunity gives Medical Assistant, Surgical Technologist and Surgical Processing Technician students a chance to apply skills learned in the classroom.
Mr. Charleman, CST, CSFA, CRCST, LPN, will travel with HTCNJ again this year and plans to share his experiences with his students at Berkeley College.
“The beauty of healthcare is making a difference in someone’s life,” he said. “There are so many people in need in this world, and to have a skill that can help them is a wonderful thing.”
For more information on HTCNJ, visit htcnj.org.