Special to the Patriot-Bridge
Just a few weeks ago, Dr. Thomas Mulroy, 38, of Charlestown, was in Chiclayo, Peru, where he cared for indigenous residents in a makeshift clinic in an abandoned warehouse without modern tools or electricity. Making the best of rudimentary resources, he and his team pushed three chairs together to form an exam table and used a flashlight app and college-level Spanish to provide expert medical care to local patients, many of whom are migrant workers and families of the remote villages in Central and South America. Seeing firsthand the disparities in healthcare access and technology in non-industrialized countries has inspired the primary care sports medicine doctor to do more.
“The nearest hospital for most people is hours away and only accessible if they are lucky enough to have transportation,” says Dr. Mulroy, a North Shore Physicians Group doctor who was introduced to the volunteer program when working as an urgent care physician in New York City several years ago. “In these remote communities, we see a lot of dietary, skeletal and muscular issues. We bring what supplies and medications we can with us, but it never feels like enough. More volunteers are needed to meet people where they live and provide the care these residents need to survive.”
Dr. Mulroy typically sees patients at the North Shore Physicians Group practice in Beverly, MA, which is affiliated with Salem Hospital and Mass General Brigham. This was the fifth year he has traveled with a group of physicians, physician assistants, medical students and other clinicians through FNE International, a nonprofit that partners with communities in developing nations to advance housing, health and education. His fiancé, Patrick Calder, and North Shore Physicians Group (NSPG) colleague, Katherine Moskal, of Beverly, an athletic trainer, joined him.
On a typical day at his Beverly practice, Dr. Mulroy will see up to 20 patients. During this trip to Peru, he estimates seeing more than 100 a day, a high volume considering how difficult it is for the local farmers, loggers, and other laborers to take time off and afford to see a doctor. Dr. Mulroy joined six other medical providers working in clinics reaching five Peruvian villages in the area. “These people are truly heroic,” says Mulroy, “and they teach me so much about happiness and resilience.”
His colleague, Moskal, enjoyed the extra honor of having her 51st birthday celebrated while on the mission trip.
“It was an EPIC day,” says Moskal. “We saw more than 250 patients among all of the providers, but when the mayor of that community heard it was my birthday, she presented me with a cake. When we returned to the place we were staying, they threw a huge party for me. I had my own cake, there was music and dancing and decorations. COVID pretty much ruined my 50th, but this so made up for it! Trips like this remind me of how fortunate we are in this country. We have so much and we take so much for granted. It was incredible to watch those who have so little continue to live such full and happy lives.”
Throughout the calendar year, Dr. Mulroy raises money to pay for mission trips and sponsor other volunteers to join him. He also participates in triathlons, training that came in handy during his down time in Peru when he hiked Rainbow Mountain, 17,000 feet above sea-level. To learn more about the need and support Dr. Mulroy’s work with FNE International, the public can visit: www.fneinternational.org.
Salem Hospital is a member of Mass General Brigham, an academic healthcare system founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital that is uniting great minds to make life-changing impact for patients in local communities and around the world. Serving the North Shore community for more than 100 years, Salem Hospital provides innovative medical, surgical and psychiatric care through an array of inpatient, outpatient and virtual settings including Salem Hospital, the Epstein Center for Behavioral Health, North Shore Physicians Group and a medical staff of nearly 700 physicians practicing in a wide range of specialties. For more information, please visit nsmc.partners.org. For information about Mass General Brigham, visit massgeneralbrigham.org.
Mass General Brigham is an integrated academic health care system, uniting great minds to solve the hardest problems in medicine for our communities and the world. Mass General Brigham connects a full continuum of care across a system of academic medical centers, community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, physician networks, community health centers, home care, and long-term care services. Mass General Brigham is a non-profit organization that is committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. In addition, Mass General Brigham is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.