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Category: Health Magazine, Winter 2023

Title:Hoya doctor partners with underserved communities for long-lasting impact

Author: By Patti North
Date Published: December 1, 2022

Throughout his career as an emergency room physician, Francis Duggan, M.D. (C’89, M’95), has spent part of every year as a volunteer, working in developing countries around the world to improve health care systems and delivery to the underserved. He cites his experience at Georgetown—and the ideal of service to others that exists at its core—as being critical to the way he shaped his career.

In 2014, he founded Health Care Volunteers International (HCVI.org) to leverage the knowledge and experience he has acquired in over 25,000 hours of international volunteer work. Since that time, he and HCVI have served Haiti, Cambodia, Kenya, Nicaragua, and now Ukraine. “Often you have aid organizations coming in for a few months or even much less time, then leaving and maybe never coming back,” he says. “If you want to have a long-lasting impact and affect meaningful change you have to engage the community in a long-term relationship and figure out what they feel their needs are.“

Duggan creates models that are scalable, replicable, and shareable, and with the support of technology, are carried out by local health care professionals and volunteers. He starts by earning their trust. “You can’t go in with any particular agenda. As a partner, you must convey that you are there to provide resources and guidance, but goals must arise from within the community. When they believe in your commitment and know their voice will drive the mission, you have the right mix for success,” he says.

He provides a wide range of supplies, from basic first aid supplies to advanced technology like Vuzix smart glasses in order to support direct patient care and a comprehensive digital health platform that includes telemedicine, telesurgery, teleradiology, remote learning, and voice-enabled EHR (electronic health record). Duggan’s primary objective is to help others succeed by enabling them to dramatically improve their productivity and efficiency at both the individual and organizational level.

He is excited by the progress HCVI has made in Ukraine, where he has already outfitted six Kharkiv hospitals with HCVI Digital Health platforms. The equipment includes power generators, high-definition cameras and microscopes, video monitors, and high-speed Wi-Fi. The scope of work is ever-expanding and includes partnership with major hospitals as well as provision and support of battlefront care.

As big an impact as he is making there, the courage of the Ukraine people—especially his pediatric patients—makes a profound impact on him. He recently treated a young girl named Kira who has endured many surgeries and faces many more since being wounded by shrapnel. “When asked her if she was scared, she said ‘no’…then with a smile that lit up the room, she said, ‘Because I am Ukrainian.’”

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