FIL-AM  DOC  LEADS  FIRST  SEA-BASED  MEDICAL  MISSION

MANILA, January 31, 2006
 (BULLETIN) Volunteerism knows no bounds. This holds true for US-based general and thoracic surgeon Dr. Juan M. Montero II, volunteer team leader of medical institution, Physicians for Peace Philippines.

For the past 10 years, Dr. Montero has been returning to the Philippines twice a year, doing medical missions in far-flung places of the country where medical attention is much needed.

Just recently, Dr. Montero set sail aboard a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) search and rescue vessel-turned-hospital ship, the BRP Pampanga, to lead a 35-man medical mission in Coron, Palawan and Camiguin, Mindanao where they provided a host of medical services that included general surgery and eye operations to more than a thousand residents of the outlying coastal communities.

To help with the cause, pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) donated almost half a million pesos in assorted medicines and medical supplies for the Philippines’ first ever sea-based medical mission.

Medical volunteerism

Dr. Montero has been leading medical missions to the Philippines since 1981 with different groups of Filipino expatriates. As a volunteer team leader and board trustee of the Physicians for Peace, Dr. Montero has also continuously recruited US-based Filipino doctors to do volunteer work in the Philippines.

The volunteers generally stay in the Philippines for one to three weeks, giving primary healthcare seminars and lectures as well as teaching operating room procedures. They team up with other volunteers at local communities, hospitals and medical teaching institutions.

Currently, Dr. Montero is in private practice in Chesapeake, Virginia. He is also an assistant professor of surgery (community faculty) for the Eastern Virginia Medical School and is a former president of the Association of Philippine Practicing Physicians in America and Society of Philippine Surgeons in America.

His volunteerism spirit was nurtured at an early age, at home in Surigao del Sur.

"People come to our house to be treated with their wounds and my mother would help them even though she had no formal training. That for me was volunteerism.’’

Beginning volunteer work in the US

In 1966, Dr. Montero migrated to Virginia in the United States where he started his practice. He later became a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. In 1978, Dr. Montero created a free mobile clinic that he brought to the rural areas of Virginia to help the underprivileged migrant workers who did not have any healthcare.

In October 1992, he opened the Chesapeake Care Free Clinic which provided free medical services to the uninsured working poor in Humanity Roads.

Physicians for Peace

Dr. Montero joined Physicians for Peace (PFP) in 1995 through the invitation of Dr. Charles E. Horton, Sr., a world-renowned plastic surgeon and internationally recognized humanitarian who founded PFP in 1984.

PFP is an international humanitarian non-profit medical education and service organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. The organization has nearly 350 medical education programs in 50 different countries.

In 2004, PFP established an affiliate in the country – Physicians for Peace, Philippines.

Aside from transforming the PCG’s search and rescue vessels into hospital ships, the PFP Philippines is also eyeing several projects including setting up an eye bank in Cebu, distributing eyeglasses throughout the Philippines and establishing prosthetic and rehabilitation centers.

Rewarding moments

Dr. Montero will be retiring from private practice in May 2007 and he looks forward to doing more medical missions in the Philippines, especially if donations from private corporations would pour in.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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