With recent passport stamps from Mexico and Haiti, you have to wonder what’s up with the Class of 2009’s Vincent Roddy who, last we checked, had headed north for an emergency medicine residency.
Now a third-year resident in Mount Sinai’s emergency medicine department, Roddy spent much of his summer doing humanitarian work in Oaxaca, Mexico and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Roddy traveled first to Haiti with Project Medishare, a non-profit organization that operates a hospital staffed by volunteer physicians from around the world. “Many areas of the country lack basic utilities, let alone health care,” said Roddy, who saw tent neighborhoods and evidence of earthquake damage during his week-long stay. When he arrived, he learned that he’d be staffing the nightshift as the sole physician on duty. Assisted by nurses from the United States and a few volunteers, he was responsible for patients in the inpatient ward, ICU and Emergency Department as well as assessing and triaging any who arrived overnight. Nevertheless, he says “I can see why people like working there: you really have to put your knowledge to the test.”
His month-long stay in Mexico took him to the largest hospital in Oaxaca, where patient care and supervising less experienced residents served as a daily training ground for his admittedly limited Spanish.
While in Oaxaca, he had his first encounter with neurocysticercosis, a parasitic disease of the nervous system that, while rare in the United States, is the most common cause of acquired epilepsy in developing countries. “The doctors did not have readily available access to MRI scanners or CT scanners with IV contrast. As a result, we ultimately made the diagnosis via the clinical history and suspicion as well as seeing very small, calcified lesions on the head CT. It was really interesting and somewhat thrilling to see how other physicians work and make use of the resources available to them.” Due to immigration from Latin America in recent years, the U.S. is seeing an increase in cases of neurocysticercosis, which is acquired from contact with carriers of the adult tapeworm.
Back in New York City, Roddy is active with the non-profit leadership program New York Needs You. Last year, he was one of 50 mentors to the program’s inaugural class of first generation college students. He currently serves on the Junior Executive Board of the non-profit as well as on the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Admissions Committee.
Read Roddy’s profile on the New York Needs You website.