UMDNJ Physician Makes House Calls to Jamaica’s Poorest
(STRATFORD) - Dr. John Bertagnolli, a family physician at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine routinely makes house calls to patients who live in the area surrounding his Hammonton, NJ, office. On April 9, he’ll leave New Jersey to make a long distance house call to some very special patients. Just as he’s done each spring for the past 10 years, Dr. Bertagnolli will travel from his home in Mt. Laurel on a medical mission to the inner-city of Kingston, Jamaica. There, in one of the poorest and most medically deprived areas in the Western hemisphere, his patients will include disabled orphans, homeless teenagers and men and women with AIDS.
"One of my former students said that Kingston makes the worst cities in America look like Haddonfield," Dr. Bertagnolli said. "But to me, it’s a chance to put into practice not only my faith, but the essence of what I learned in medical school. This is a very tough inner-city neighborhood that’s become home to the throwaways of a very poor society. Most of the orphans are physically or mentally disabled. The men and women with AIDS have little access to medical care and some have suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of others."
The orphanage is run by the Missionaries of the Poor and the trip is coordinated through Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in Moorestown. This year, Dr. Bertagnolli has taken the additional responsibility of organizing the entire trip. Two medical students, one from the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine and one from the Virginian College of Osteopathic Medicine will be among the 22 volunteers making the trip.
"We’ll have people from all walks of life going with us this year," Dr. Bertagnolli said. "For the students, it’s a chance to see what it’s like to practice medicine in an underdeveloped urban area where medical luxuries – the things we call necessities in this country – simply don’t exist. The other volunteers will spend their time helping with the kids or doing whatever work needs to be done at the orphanage."
To request an interview with Dr. Bertagnolli, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566‑6171 or (973) 972‑5000.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.