What’s it like to practice medicine a half a world away? Just ask Dr. Isaac Hatton, a recent graduate of the Memorial Family Medicine Residency program, who completed an international medicine rotation at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in Papua New Guinea (PNG) this spring.
Originally from Northern Ireland, Dr. Hatton’s ties to the tropical island just north of Australia go back to his childhood: His parents were missionaries there throughout his childhood. They would spend four years in PNG, then one year back in Ireland. After completing high school in PNG, Dr. Hatton came to the U.S. to attend College of the Ozarks in Missouri. He earned his medical degree at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.
“Having grown up in Papua New Guinea, it felt in many ways for me like coming home,” says Dr. Hatton of his rotation abroad. “The people are very warm and friendly. They face many challenges and lack a lot of the resources that are easy to take for granted in the United States.”
Among those challenges are primitive living conditions and insufficient medical resources.
“People live in grass huts with mud floors. They are gardeners and farmers, so they have enough food and water but not many luxuries. And we see diarrhea and infection due to poor hygiene and unclean drinking water. In Papua New Guinea, there are only five doctors for every 100,000 people, and many of those are concentrated together in bigger cities.”
While in PNG, Dr. Hatton delivered dozens of babies. One birth he remembers quite vividly: A woman had been pushing for six hours before she arrived at the hospital. She delivered the baby pretty quickly, but he was completely unresponsive. Dr. Hatton and a nurse did resuscitation for about 15 minutes.
“I felt sure the baby wasn’t going to make it,” Dr. Hatton recounts, “but he started crying, and he survived. He was doing great when I discharged him, and his mom named him Isaac after me, which was really sweet.”
Dr. Hatton plans to follow his passion for caring for the underserved as he begins an International Family Medicine Fellowship at Via Christi Health in Kansas and Rwanda.
Congratulations to Dr. Hatton and all of the graduating Class of 2017 of the Family Medicine Residency Program of Memorial Hospital.