In a bygone era doctors made house calls to their ailing patients. Armed with that familiar little black bag, the doctor would journey to the sick to provide care that would result in some form of healing. Today, Stephen S. Carryl, MD, a Guyana native and the current Chairman of Surgery at the Harlem Hospital Center, carries on that tradition on a much larger scale. As President of the Overseas Medical Assistance Team (OMAT), Dr. Carryl makes “house calls” of a different kind. He goes to various nations in the Caribbean and has made one trip to Africa to provide care to impoverished communities. His “little black bag” or more accurately, giant duffle bag contains medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, equipment and many other necessities to help the health care facilities or individuals function better.
The Overseas Medical Assistance Team had a humble but focused beginning. In 1991, Dr. Carryl led a group of nurses, physicians and other volunteers on a humanitarian mission to the Linden Hospital Complex in Guyana. There, the group responded to the needs of the community by conducting surgeries, medical clinics, health fairs, non-invasive screenings and wellness lectures. The response was so positive, that Dr. Carryl, with the assistance and blessing of his late father and other supporters, decided to organize the group.
A year later, the Overseas Medical Assistance Team was officially founded as a non-profit organization with the mission to enhance the quality of medical care in developing countries by:
Providing medical assistance through volunteer physicians, nurses and other health care professionals;
Donating medical equipment and supplies to health care organizations in the Caribbean and Africa;
Conducting in-service training and health education seminars for health care providers in these countries;
Raising funds for related activities and projects; and,
Arranging for severely ill patients from the Caribbean to be brought to the United States for treatment
OMAT’s success in fulfilling that mission was due to a core group of dedicated volunteers. Even today, these physicians, nurses and other health care providers pay their airfare and lodging costs and donate their particular expertise on each trip overseas.
The OMAT was one of the first responders after the earthquake in 2010 devastated Haiti. Dr. Carryl led a team through the Dominican Republic to get to Port au Prince to provide trauma assistance. As a result the OMAT arranged for prosthetic services for patients and provided a two-year grant for the salaries of three physicians to serve at a local hospital caring for victims of the quake.
In 2011 the OMAT was responsible for training five Haitian physicians in laparoscopic surgery. The physicians from hospitals in Port au Prince and Milot came for training at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where the OMAT president, Dr. Stephen Carryl served as the chairman of surgery. Dr. Carryl traveled to Haiti on two occasions to supervise those physicians as they performed their laparoscopic cases. This is a tremendous benefit to patients and physician alike. The recovery time of these surgeries are a special benefit for patients who travel miles for treatment. The OMAT continues to assist in training and enhancing of skills of local personnel so that they can continue in the OMAT’s absence.
The OMAT responded to an appeal by the local seventh day Adventist church in Milot to help with a school building project that they had been trying to complete for three years. Although the OMAT does not always engage in civic missions Dr. Carryl saw a need to contribute to the betterment of the community at large. The building that housed more than 300 students was in terrible condition. Partnering with the Bethany Seventh-day Adventist Church in Long Island, the ‘I Live To Give Mission’ took place from July 11 – 22, 2014. Thirty volunteers traveled to Milot for the OMAT first civic and medical mission. A new school building project began with the help of funds from the OMAT and donors who contributed to this worthy cause.
Today, the OMAT depends on the contributions of some dedicated donors and supporters to fund its projects. The annual golf outing is one of the fundraising events held in support of the OMAT missions.
Now in its 30th year, the OMAT remains poised to continue providing aid at home and abroad. Please check the details of OMAT’s missions, projects, and events on this website. To support our most recent project click on the donate button below: