Between working full-time in a local emergency department and part-time at the Niagara County Jail, David Parsons, PA-C, finds time to provide free medical care to people of poverty stricken areas in Haiti.
As founder and president of the non-profit organization S.I.G.N. (Serving in God’s Name), Parsons coordinates medical missions to Haiti up to two times per year. The faith-based organization promotes essential healthcare services to include preventative, urgent, primary, pediatric, and maternal care accessible to patients in urban and rural communities.
Founded shortly after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Parsons has treated a range of simple and complex cases for hundreds of patients, some who travel overnight by foot to visit the clinic. Parsons and his team typically treat patients with infectious diseases, diabetes, hypertension and secondary illnesses due to HIV and AIDS; they make house calls for the elderly and incapacitated.
In a country where the leading cause of death for women is pregnancy and the cost of antibiotics is too expensive for the average patient, Parsons’ mobile clinic applies direct pressure to a country hemorrhaging from a massive shortage of medical providers and barriers to quality healthcare.
“Many don’t have access to simple needs like immunizations or medications and typically don’t have the means to attend follow-up appointments,” he said. “In some areas they don’t have access to healthcare at all.”
The medical missions last 7 to 12 days with a cast of medical professionals based on mission needs and availability of volunteers. Teams have included physicians, PAs, NPs, nurses, pharmacists, massage therapists, chiropractors and even medical students.
Though he’s faced challenging cases in Haiti, some of his toughest cases are stateside, where he provides medical care to inmates at the Niagara County Jail.
“A lot of them have significant medical histories,” Parsons said. “Many don’t take care of themselves when they’re not incarcerated or are non-compliant with their medication. Once they leave, they tend not to follow up with local medical providers, and it becomes a revolving door. It takes a while to correct that behavior.”
Parsons also works overnights as the sole medical provider in Medina Memorial Hospital’s emergency department. Atop these professional commitments, he captures time with his wife and four kids – a balancing act many working parents can relate to.
With a complex schedule, he juggles it all in the name of service, and his decision to become a PA is one where he can live out his faith through his actions.
“When I come to work every day I pray I can be a blessing to the people I treat and people I work with,” he said. “Sometimes patient populations can be difficult to work with, but sometimes I make a difference. I rejoice in seeing people turn their lives around and move towards healthier lifestyles.”
Friend Virginia Kaufman, PA-C, adds: “David is an excellent PA who saves and changes the lives of underserved people. His dedication to the PA profession is evident through his actions to help those in need.”
Even though he admits the tempo can be strenuous, he’s fueled by selfless service. Through his work he searches for opportunities to humble himself, foster relationships and address medical needs. These are commitments he never gets tired of fulfilling.
NCCPA salutes David Parsons, PA-C, for leading medical missions to Haiti and serving populations with the most urgent medical needs.