The director of their residency program, Lyell Jones, M.D., challenged Mayo's neurology residents to find ways (outside of the hospital) to make an impact in the community by doing things to "give back." Narayan Kissoon, M.D., and his fellow neurology residents happily responded. They donated their time to projects like providing food to those in need at the local Dorothy Day House and helping with a Halloween party for the Boys & Girls Club of Rochester. Those one-time events got them started, and soon the group was looking for more.
Dr. Kissoon says he and other residents decided they wanted to take on something they could do on an ongoing basis. So, thinking big, they sent an email to the entire Department of Neurology in Rochester to see if there was interest in volunteering with the Rochester Area Habitat for Humanity, which provides "homeownership opportunities in partnership with working families." Dr. Kissoon says they wanted it be a "group effort" and the response was just that. "We ended up getting a pretty good turnout and one of the higher turnouts they've ever had for their builds," he says.
As fate would have it, the group -- a mix of Mayo staff, family and friends -- helped work on a home for a family struggling with some pretty serious medical problems that have "resulted in a lot of medical bills," he says. "They're very nice people. They made cookies for everyone and helped put up scaffolding." As part of the Habitat for Humanity agreement, the family is required to work a minimum of 500 "sweat equity" hours helping to build their home. And they had lots of Mayo help to work alongside of. "We had so many people that we actually had to break into two groups," Dr. Kissoon says. "We helped cut boards and frame the garage and also helped level out the basement floor. Our two groups worked alongside the family to do all of that."
At the end of the day, Dr. Kissoon says it was an opportunity for the Mayo crew to not only help build a home for a family but to also see a side of patient care they don't always get to experience. "We always see the clinical side of things, but we don't often get to see the whole patient perspective of how their medical care can affect their entire lives or how a challenging medical condition can put a huge financial strain on a family," he says. Not to mention the fact that they learned some new skills. "It was good for us, too, because we learned a lot about building a house." They hope to use those new skills at another Habitat for Humanity project later this year, we're told.
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