BY LAEL CAESAR [Main Story]
nited Hands, Inc., is a 501c3 nonprofit organization,
operating since April 1995. The brainchild of two physicians, Drs. Mendel Reid and Don Bovell, it works to bring free medical care and prescription medications to underserved populations within and outside the United States. Ninety-one medical and health professionals traveled on United Hands’ most recent mission trip, June 27-31, 2011, to the towns of Montego Bay and Spanish Town, on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, to share free medical, dental, optical, and chiropractic care with more than 2,600 patients during four and a half days of work. The team’s volunteer composition included emergency physicians, a gynecologist, internists, general medical practitioners, nurses and nurse practitioners in various specialties, an optometrist, dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, a chiropractor, a psychologist, and health counselors.
United Hands’ preferred mode of operation is the health fair. A United Hands health fair is primarily an opportunity to screen for certain diseases; it’s also an occasion to educate and advise the community about how to prevent the onset of specific diseases, and how to ameliorate and even reverse particular diseases by making healthy lifestyle choices. In this sense the health fair is an empowering event for those who attend.
During their health fairs in Jamaica:
• dental workers performed x-rays, examinations, fillings, extractions, cleanings, etc., for about 500 patients
• about 450 adults and children received cataract and glaucoma screenings, visual acuity tests, free prescription glasses and sunglasses, etc.
• the chiropractor averaged 60-80 spinal manipulations, massages, etc.; each day other medical personnel served approximately 1,000 adults and children in general medicine, gynecology (GYN), internal medicine, pediatric care, etc.
• health counselors leave no doubt about the gospel motivation of United Hands outreach. Their advice and handouts deal with such themes as faith in God, healthful eating based on a diet of fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables, liberal enjoyment of sunshine, fresh air, pure water, moderation in the use of the good, and avoidance of the bad, eight hours of sleep initiated two hours before midnight, adequate physical exercise, Sabbath rest, and sharing what they have learned with others.
Besides this notable witnessing approach, team members also provide free medical attention to the staff of their hotel on their day off from community medical ministry. During their day off in Jamaica, team members attended to 144 individuals at the hotel where they stayed with free optical, dental, GYN, chiropractic, general medicine, and health counseling services.
Over its decade and a half of existence United Hands has taken its impressive brand of gospel witness to a number of other overseas territories, including Ghana, Guyana, Jamaica, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, and the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago.