CMDA Helps Provide Personal Pandemic Support for Medical Missionaries
Greg Seager is the CEO of Christian Health Services Corps, a mission organization that specializes in sending and supporting healthcare professionals as long-term missionaries. In his role, he has undertaken the responsibility of learning as much as possible about effectively caring for the caregivers on the mission field.
In his article, Why Do Medical Missionaries Leave the Field, Greg Seager tackles the issue of missionary attrition. He asserts that there are “few mission organizations that recognize or understand the need for healthcare professionals to be prepared, supported and cared for differently.”
He admits that medical missionary attrition has not been well studied, but says “we do know it is higher than other forms of missions.” Further, he says, “What is clear to us in the medical mission world is that higher attrition is likely a result of the unique challenges encountered in global health missions. ”
Seager says that those unique challenges include “a combination of cumulative vicarious trauma, practicing with extremely limited resources, and with too few staff causing everyone to be overworked.” Not all patients can be saved when working in resource-poor health care systems, and most medical missionaries will witness more deaths than they may have bargained for.
“Dealing with death from the diseases of poverty is incredibly challenging and represents one of the most difficult challenges for medical missionaries,” says Seager.
High Stress Environments
Although global healthcare workers are known for their resilience, they are not immune to the cumulative effects of the high-stress environments in which they serve.
A study was done involving aid workers serving in an “unstable” area (West Africa) in 2007. Workers were subject to very high-stress environments and recurring traumatic events. A third were affected in a way that made it “hard to function.” These workers said that they suffered from emotional numbing, burnout, depression, insomnia, stress, and spiritual struggles.
According to the Christian Medical and Dental Association, “It would not be unusual if something similar happens to healthcare personnel in low resource contexts during this pandemic.”
Understanding that Seager was right in his assertion that healthcare professionals do need to be supported and cared for differently, the CMDA knew they needed to do something.
Personal Pandemic Support
In an effort to come alongside healthcare professionals on the frontlines of the pandemic, the CMDA Center for Well Being has teamed up with Godspeed Resource Connection and the GWPC-Global Worker Psychiatry Council. Together, they will work to connect Christian psychiatrists, counselors and coaches with healthcare workers who need support. Calling their services Personal Pandemic Support, they urge healthcare workers to consider it part of their PPE.
The trio of organizations are offering the following resources:
- Coaching: To improve balance in hard times, build strength in a certain area, or address spiritual concerns
- Coping: General Resources for coping with the pandemic
- Counseling: Consultation and counseling during times of distress or difficulty in concentration
Rick Allen, CEO of MedSend, also recognizes the need to care for healthcare workers on the field.
“MedSend has the ability to use our unique place in healthcare missions to come alongside our associates and partners in caring for our grant recipients on the field,” he says. MedSend also partners with GodSpeed Resources to offer emotional support to grant recipients, in addition to pairing each new grant recipient with a personal mentor.
Healthcare remains the only form of access as a Christian witness in many countries.
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