CORTLANDT, N.Y. -- The experience of traveling abroad, most recently to Tanzania, has made Lindsay Aarstad, physician assistant at Hudson Valley Hospital Center's emergency department, feel she's a better clinician at home.
"It made me very aware of the fact that every patient is a person that can come from a very different background than your own. Even here, we get people that can come from a different country than your own, very often," Aarstad said.
In June, Aarstad travelled with her father, Philip, pastor of Oasis Church in Beacon, to Kansana, a tiny village in Tanzania. “It was an 18-hour flight and another 18 hours driving just to get there,’’ she said.
“Most of these people had very little contact with medical treatment so it was very difficult. They would bathe, cook and wash clothes in the same water so even explaining the importance of clean drinking water was a challenge,’’ Aarstad said.
Statistically speaking, the people Aarstad encountered in her trip are not uncommon. According to a study by the U.S. Global Health Initiative, which provides health aid to developing countries, "Tanzania has some of the lowest health personnel coverage per population in the world. For example, there are 0.4 physicians and 2.8 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people. This is well below the corresponding average figures of 2.8 physicians and 6.7 nursing and midwifery personnel for all of the world’s low income countries."
Tanzania is East Africa's most populous country, and about 75 percent of Tanzania's 44 million people live in rural areas, according to GHI's "Tanzania Global Health Initiative Strategy 2010-2015."
In 2006 and 2009, Aarstad travelled to Peru for a medical mission. It's when she'll be able to travel for the next mission, but "There will definitely be one, I can guarantee that, there's just nothing scheduled. So far, it's been an every-three-year occurrence and I just hope the next one won't be that far away," she said.
"I would be very blessed to be able to go again," Aarstad said.