Lawrence restaurant owner organizes medical mission trip to native country Nepal

Subarna Bhattachan and his wife, Amanda, of Lawrence, arrive at the Tukche village health clinic in the Mustang District of Nepal on Nov. 2, 2011. They were greeted by village leaders and were part of a medical mission team that provided care to rural, poor residents. Nepal is Subarna's native country and he coordinated the medical mission trip.

Subarna Bhattachan and his wife, Amanda, of Lawrence, arrive at the Tukche village health clinic in the Mustang District of Nepal on Nov. 2, 2011. They were greeted by village leaders and were part of a medical mission team that provided care to rural, poor residents. Nepal is Subarna's native country and he coordinated the medical mission trip.

Subarna Bhattachan, a chef and Lawrence restaurant owner, returns to his native country Nepal every two years to visit family. This fall, his visit was extra special because he coordinated a medical mission to provide free care to the rural poor population.

“It was a way for me to give back and do some humanitarian work,” he said. “Health care is pretty accessible in the urban areas, but not the rural areas. Whether it’s the topography or the weather, doctors don’t want to go to those areas.”

Bhattachan, 42, spent 18 months recruiting volunteers, making travel plans and raising money after Dr. Antonio Racela Jr., founder of the Kansas City-based nonprofit World Outreach Foundation, contacted him about doing the foundation’s first trip to Nepal.

Racela said the mission trip wouldn’t have been possible without Bhattachan’s expertise about the area and ability to speak Nepali.

“Subarna did all of the arrangements, which is quite a lot, and not only Subarna but all of his relatives helped,” Racela said.

Typically, Racela said about 25 people go on a trip, but Bhattachan helped recruit 42 volunteers, including Lawrence residents Bridget Patti and Dr. Bill Dixon. Bhattachan’s wife, Amanda, a triage nurse for Kansas University Physicians, also volunteered. So, they divided into two teams for the mission trip, which was Oct. 28 to Nov. 8.

The surgical team was located at a medical college in Pokhara, a large city, and another clinical team was located in the District of Mustang, pronounced Moose-tahn, which is about 25 minutes northwest of Pokhara by air, but 12 hours by bus because there’s only a single gravel road to get there. It’s a sparsely populated area in the mountains, and that’s where the Bhattachans spent their time. They stayed in Tukche, which is Subarna’s ancestral village.

“From a personal perspective that was something, giving back to our own community where my parents grew up, so that was very exciting,” he said.

Bridget Patti, Lawrence, takes the vital signs of a woman during a free clinic in the village of Tukche in Nepal. She volunteered to take part in a medical mission trip to Nepal that was organized through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation. She assisted a general practitioner with care and dispensed medication, toothbrushes, toys and hats.

Bridget Patti, Lawrence, takes the vital signs of a woman during a free clinic in the village of Tukche in Nepal. She volunteered to take part in a medical mission trip to Nepal that was organized through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation. She assisted a general practitioner with care and dispensed medication, toothbrushes, toys and hats.

A 5-year-old boy from a village near Pokhara, Nepal, awaits to receive free medical care by the surgical team.

A 5-year-old boy from a village near Pokhara, Nepal, awaits to receive free medical care by the surgical team.

A mother comforts her son during a free surgical clinic in Pokhara, Nepal, that was organized through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation. The surgical team, which included nurses, orthopedists and a plastic surgeon, provided 46 surgeries in four days.

A mother comforts her son during a free surgical clinic in Pokhara, Nepal, that was organized through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation. The surgical team, which included nurses, orthopedists and a plastic surgeon, provided 46 surgeries in four days.

Subarna said the majority of people in Nepal are farmers; they live on the food that they grow. He said most of the people do not receive health care because they can’t take time off of work. Also, services are provided on a cash-only basis, and they are very poor. He said the average annual income in U.S. dollars is about $480.

During the four-day medical clinic, he helped translate for the doctors. The most common problems were: high blood pressure, knee pain, stomach issues and allergies.

“The topography in Mustang is very dry. It’s a high mountain dessert and very windy. Also, most of them cook with wood fire inside their house and so the smoke and soot stays inside,” he said.

He quickly learned that a lot of women suffer from uterine prolapse, where the uterus falls from its normal position into the vaginal area. He said one of the reasons is because women go back to working too soon. He also said that there are no obstetricians or gynecologists in the area and that a nurse takes care of the women who seek care; however, most women opt to have their babies in their homes.

He said there is no dental care because the closest dentist is a 12-hour bus ride away. Very few people even have a toothbrush. Bhattachan estimated they did 35 extractions per day. He’s hopeful that a dentist will soon locate in Tukche because the foundation donated $24,000 worth of equipment, supplies and medicine for a dental clinic.

The clinical team saw 450 people and gave away medications, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toys and hats. The surgical team provided 46 surgeries, from joint replacements to fixing a cleft lip.

The World Outreach Foundation along with its sister organization, the Kansas City World Outreach Lions Club, raised about $40,000 for the trip. Each participate raised $2,800 to pay for their own expenses.

Bhattachan, who owns La Parrilla, Genovese and Zen Zero in downtown Lawrence, lived in Nepal until age 18 and then moved to Kansas to attend Bethel College. He said he never realized how great the need was until the trip.

“I go there every couple of years. I say, ‘Hi and hello,’ but I don’t really know what’s wrong with them,” he said. “So, it was a good experience and self-satisfying.”

Bridget Patti, of Lawrence, holds up toothbrushes that were given away to poor residents who lived in the Mustang district of Nepal. Very few residents in the sparsely populated district owned a toothbrush and there was no dentist to provide care. Patti was part of a medical mission team who provided supplies and care. The trip was Oct. 28-Nov. 8.

Bridget Patti, of Lawrence, holds up toothbrushes that were given away to poor residents who lived in the Mustang district of Nepal. Very few residents in the sparsely populated district owned a toothbrush and there was no dentist to provide care. Patti was part of a medical mission team who provided supplies and care. The trip was Oct. 28-Nov. 8.

Dr. Doug Cusick, a plastic surgeon from Kansas City, center, along with two Nepali doctors volunteered to help poor, rural residents during a medical mission trip that was organized through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation.

Dr. Doug Cusick, a plastic surgeon from Kansas City, center, along with two Nepali doctors volunteered to help poor, rural residents during a medical mission trip that was organized through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation.

Patients await free medical care in the Tukche village of Nepal. A medical mission trip was organized by Lawrence resident Subarna Bhattachan through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation.

Patients await free medical care in the Tukche village of Nepal. A medical mission trip was organized by Lawrence resident Subarna Bhattachan through the Kansas City-based World Outreach Foundation.

Dr. Sidhartha Gurung, a general practitioner from California, checks the vital signs of a baby during a free medical clinic in the Mustang district of Nepal. He was among 42 volunteers who spent four days providing care for poor, rural residents.

Dr. Sidhartha Gurung, a general practitioner from California, checks the vital signs of a baby during a free medical clinic in the Mustang district of Nepal. He was among 42 volunteers who spent four days providing care for poor, rural residents.

Dr. Bill Dixon, of Lawrence, fifth from right in back row, poses for a picture during a medical mission trip in Nepal in early November. Dixon is an internal medicine doctor at Watkins Health Center at Kansas University. On Dixon's right is Brandon Cusick, assistant mission director for the Pokhara surgical team. They are pictured with Lions Club of Pokhara Aangan volunteers who are in yellow vests. They provided free medical care for the patient in front.

Dr. Bill Dixon, of Lawrence, fifth from right in back row, poses for a picture during a medical mission trip in Nepal in early November. Dixon is an internal medicine doctor at Watkins Health Center at Kansas University. On Dixon's right is Brandon Cusick, assistant mission director for the Pokhara surgical team. They are pictured with Lions Club of Pokhara Aangan volunteers who are in yellow vests. They provided free medical care for the patient in front.

Tagged: World Outreach Foundation, medical mission, Nepal

Comments

lori 2 years, 3 months ago

Well done, Subarna and Amanda!

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Kyle Reed 2 years, 3 months ago

Your comment about Olive Garden and Applebee's is completely uninformed. Regardless of what you think about these companies and their potential impact on local businesses, you'd be a fool to think they don't support and do philanthropic work of their own.

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Bob_Loblaw 2 years, 3 months ago

Awesome... This is why everyone should frequent our local businesses more....support those who directly or indirectly support us as a local and world community. Please say no to the Olive Gardens and Applebee's etc.

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distant_voice 2 years, 3 months ago

This is how you give a Christmas present.

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RKLOG 2 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Subarna and thanks to all the volunteers!

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 3 months ago

I have been going to La Parilla since it first opened. Why don't you put up photographs in the restaurant of your trip?

If there's enough for a show, talk with the Lawrence Arts Center.

This is one thing art can do: link photographs with real life information.

Thank you, Subarna.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for mentioning the restaurants he owns. I would rather spend my money at an establishement that believes in "paying it forward."

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vuduchyld 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow...very impressive. Thank you, Subarna, for being a fantastic citizen of the entire world!

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Norma Jeane Baker 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, Subarna, for being a great example to the people of Lawrence. Giving back is an awesome thing!

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