Patrick Singley is a go-getter. His wife, Leslie, says so.
“When he gets his mind on something, he doesn’t let go of it, doesn’t stop thinking about it,” she said of her spouse. No doubt that quality in the Columbus dentist fueled his determination to develop Sending70. The portable database allows medical missions to create a “virtual clinic” even in a jungle hut, or set up a network of iPads to function like a hospital.
Singley’s passion for the project is evident very early in any conversation about Sending70. He and his wife gave that name, inspired by a Bible verse, to the nonprofit organization they created in 2012 to focus on getting medical care to underdeveloped countries through technologies. The seed was planted during medical mission trips to third world countries the doctor took part in.
“A lot of those trips are three to five days; you may see a thousand people, and most doctors say they wish they could have done more. I say the same thing,” said the 35-year-old. While the care given is beneficial and often critical, Singley felt there must be a way to improve the larger picture of sustainable health care.
“A typical mission group goes into an area for a few days, dispenses medical and dental treatments and leaves. There is often limited Internet access and no way to track a patient’s progress, follow up to renew medicines or request aid in diagnosis or treatment from doctors outside the country,” he explained. When the next group of missionaries arrives a few months later, they have to start from scratch, with no insight into a patient’s past or current medical conditions or needs. This results in a lack of continuity of care, which can cost lives, said the doctor who grew up in Meridian and graduated from Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi Medical School. He received an advanced education in general dentistry as a resident at Baylor University Medical Center.
“I can run to the drug store for something if my child has a fever, but these people have nothing like that. I felt a calling to create something that would bridge the gap of short-term care and long-term care in third world countries. Any country and anybody who lives there deserves quality health care.”
Roll up the sleeves
Singley’s vision was a database to create electronic medical records (EMRs) in the field, even without Internet access. It took some doing. He approached about 10 programmers with no luck, until he “finally found the guy” — Colin Quarello at QueCentric, a Birmingham, Alabama, technology firm offering FileMaker custom software. “He has been a phenomenal help. He was the only one who thought it would be possible,” said the doctor.
In collaboration, they built the program from the ground up. “In its simplest form, you could have a missionary with an iPad in a backpack in a jungle in Brazil, and he could put in information like blood pressure, heart rate, get imaging and ultrasound. He could go back into the city and go to a website where a doctor in the States could access that information in five minutes and offer help with diagnosis and treatment.”
Sending70 has partnered with Hispaniola Mountain Ministries to install the Sending70 program throughout their ministry in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The story of Cherlin, a 13-year-old girl in Anse a Pietre in southeast Haiti, illustrates the revolutionary role the program can play.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Cherlin spent much of the first 12 years of her life on a cardboard box, with a rope threaded through a small hole that allowed her mother to move her around. Medical care was financially impossible. There was no government program, no electricity and no access to a wheel chair or vehicle to transport her to a doctor. Today, Cherlin is in a wheel chair and Hispaniola Ministries can take an iPad to her house to allow physicians to monitor her progress and needs on a regular basis.
Sending70 is simple enough for volunteers to gather all vital signs and check for diabetes, HIV or other diseases. Patient records can be stored in the Cloud, drug inventories managed and treatment advice sought. It even has built-in GPS capabilities to help aid workers pinpoint even the most remote locations.
The Singleys’ goal is to provide the Sending70 program to any medical missions organization that can use it to improve health care.
“We want to make it as attainable and as affordable to set up as it can be,” said Dr. Singley.
Even as new as the program is, interest has grown faster than expected.
“I think he’s a little bit in shock at how it has gotten off the ground running,” said Leslie, a trained physical therapist. It’s definitely a God thing, she added.
Some of the patients have been as much or more excited than medical missions techs and their interpreters, her husband suggested. He believes it’s a heightened perception of quality and continuing care, an ongoing connection to people concerned about their welfare.
“It creates what most people in these communities lack the most — hope,” Singley emphasized. “We define poverty as a lack of material goods; they see poverty as a lack of hope. … We create that hope for them, and they realize that they are loved.”
Editor’s note: For more about Sending70, visit sending70.org or email Sending70@gmail.com.
“After this the Lord appointed 70 (72 in some translations) others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”
Luke 10: 1-2
New International version
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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