Dr. Jerry Umanos practices medicine in both inner-city Chicago and in war-torn Afghanistan. Each has its own unique circumstances and challenges. But he has learned that despite these differences, the basic principles of practicing effective medicine are still the same. His experiences at Lawndale Christian Health Center laid a strong foundation for his work on the other side of the world.
Dr. Umanos worked as a pediatrician at LCHC for over 16 years. But in 2005, he and his wife, Jan, felt called to move to Afghanistan. Today, Dr. Umanos works in Kabul at a community health center and at a children's hospital, which are the only two training programs for Afghan doctors in the country.In Afghanistan, patients will often take a 3-hour bus ride to be seen by a doctor. Then they will turn around and take the same bus back home later that day, making follow-up with them incredibly difficult.
During his years practicing in Lawndale, Dr. Umanos faced similar challenges of following up with patients. He had seen doctors assess and prescribe, barely talking to the patient. But at LCHC, he learned how necessary it is to understand each patients contact and begin to build a trust relationship. In both places, he knows that he must provide the best care possible at each visit, because there is a chance that he may not see the patient again.
Dr. Umanos is not alone in living out his passion to provide services and share medical knowledge overseas. Over 30 LCHC staff has traveled to Kabul to assist in teaching physician residents, midwives, and community health workers. Additionally, many LCHC providers and staff have traveled to countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Liberia.Another skill Jerry learned through his work at Lawndale is to "roll with the punches" when things don't go as planned. This has been integral to his work in Afghanistan, where each day is so unpredictable.
This past summer, Dr. Umanos returned to practice at LCHC which he still considers to be his US home. He will travel back to Afghanistan later in October. Dr. Umanos says he is so grateful to LCHC, because it has provided an incredible training ground for his work overseas.
Check Out the Other Stories From Our Fall 2012 Newsletter