House Calls

SUM 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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12 { summer 2018 } h o u s e c a l l s for the family Missions by the Numbers Statistics show the prevalence and top takeaways of volunteering on mission trips: Per New York University's 2017 U.S. Family Travel Survey, only 7% of families polled had gone on a mission trip (30% said they would like to take one with their kids in the future). Three-quarters of people who embark on service trips say the experience was life changing, reports the research and resource company Barna Group. The most common areas of personal growth reported were: becoming more aware of other people's struggles (25%); learning more about poverty, justice, or the world (16%); increased compassion (11%); deepened or enriched faith (9%); broadened spiritual understanding (9%); and increased financial generosity (5%). W hen planning a summer vacation, we generally dream of sandy beaches, off-the-grid mountain locales, or even more exotic destinations like the Instagram darling that is Iceland. But what if we thought less about relaxation and more about making a difference when planning our family's trips? Ali Swanson—a Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated physician assistant who has been leading medical mission trips abroad since 2003—says volunteering in such a way can have far-reaching benefits. "Mission trips open your eyes to the world around you," Swanson explains. "We take a lot for granted in the U.S., but we can also create significant change." In addition to expanding your worldview, helping others during your time off can have health perks. According to research from the Corporation for National and Community Service, people who volunteer often have lower blood pressure, greater happiness levels, higher self-esteem, and increased longevity than those who don't. Short-term mission trips can take many forms, but often involve serving in an impoverished community, whether that's within the U.S. or abroad. Swanson's nonprofit, Partners 4 Global Health (P4GH), runs weeklong medical clinics in a remote region of Nicaragua, during which her team treats up to 300 patients a day, many of whom travel hours on horseback just to receive basic healthcare services. Beyond providing preventative care, volunteers teach CPR, distribute medicine and supplies, and offer prayer. Although medical training is useful, P4GH trips are open to anyone with a heart to serve. "We've had stylists come and cut patients' hair," Swanson says. "Whatever talents you have, we will put them to use." Given the level of responsibility participants undertake—as well as the emotional impact the trips can have—many mission trips, including P4GH, are limited to those age 14 and older. Before traveling to a third-world country, check with your doctor about which vaccinations you might need and to undergo a routine physical. "Due to limited access to healthcare once there, it's important for volunteers to be in good physical condition and to have any chronic diseases well managed," notes Swanson. The next Partners 4 Global Health medical mission trip will take place in March 2019; the fee is $1,600 per person, which includes airfare, food, and lodging. In addition to organizing trips, P4GH collects equipment, such as canes and walkers, and donations year-round. For more information, visit teamnicaragua.org. Want to Contribute? On a Mission Consider donating your time and talents to the greater good—your health will thank you – B Y J E S S Y G R E E N S M I T H Led by Roper St. Francis Healthcare physican assistant Ali Swanson (pictured in image at bottom right), the nonprofit Partners 4 Global Health runs annual weeklong medical mission trips in a remote region of Nicaragua. Here, a volunteer demonstrates infant CPR. I M A G E S ( 3 ) C O U R T E S Y O F P A R T N E R S 4 G L O B A L H E A L T H , I N C

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