Dr. Ned Markey and team assist Panama mission

Dr. Ned Markey of First Impressions’ Wausau and Medford locations, and two of his dental assistants, Connie Brown and Lindsey Frahm, recently returned from a remote jungle region of Panama after providing dental care to children. 

Markey and his assistants, along with his wife, Molly, and their three daughters, took part in a mission for the organization Floating Doctors.

For a week, Markey and his assistants provided dental services to children in several remote villages of the First Nations peoples, Ngäbe-Buglé, of Panama. Dental care is almost impossible for them. In addition, access to toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental hygiene supplies is almost nonexistent, and increasingly sugary diets result in severe dental issues being ubiquitous throughout the region.  

Markey and his team provided services from extractions and fillings to cleanings and dental hygiene education. They funded the trip entirely on their own, including all travel costs, and donated the materials they used during the mission.

Floating Doctors points out that, “over 80% of the world’s population lives within five miles of a coast, but far too many communities still live in remote poverty without access to basic health care. Poorly-charted waters and rugged terrain, political factors, social disenfranchisement, poor health knowledge, poverty, and lack of infrastructure separate these communities from care.” The Floating Doctors medical team, along with volunteers such as Markey, Brown, and Frahm, answer these challenges to health and deploy medical teams by boat.

They had talked about volunteering for a long time. Markey says they decided on this particular organization and location because the need is significant, Spanish is the language of the region, and the area is tropical and mountainous while also being relatively safe. He adds, “I wanted to help kids that really had no other hope for seeing a dentist.”

When asked why he and his wife took their children along on this week-long immersive experience, Markey says, “I want my kids to experience what life is like outside of our little Wausau, Wis. bubble, and the USA. I want them to appreciate hard work and the amenities that we enjoy here at home.” What a great opportunity for that this was. All participants stayed at the Floating Doctors medical support base on Isla San Cristobal; the headquarters is an off-the-grid remote facility located on a mangrove island, relying on solar power, rain catchment and filtration, and bio-treatment of waste. There is no air conditioning, but electric fans and mosquito nets were provided for every bed. The kitchen is run by a team of women and men from the neighboring village of Valle Escondido. 

For more information on Floating Doctors, visit www.floatingdoctors.com.