Shortly after Heart to Heart International (HHI) completed its first airlifts of aid to Russia and Vietnam, HHI’s co-founder Gary Morsch became aware of a pressing concern closer to home: many rural healthcare providers were stressed, overworked, and facing burnout. To help address this issue, Morsch founded Docs Who Care with the mission of recruiting Physicians, Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners who would jump in and offer staffing support for rural healthcare providers.
“The general shift of populations from rural areas to cities means less people working in rural hospitals,” said Morsch, who talked to us after returning home from working a shift in Estherville, Iowa. “People who work for us love that they can still live where they want but help others where they’re needed.”
The partnership with HHI started immediately after Morsch founded Docs Who Care. Morsch said early on every person working for Docs Who Care was also a HHI volunteer. In fact, it’s often what attracted people to work for Docs Who Care. “Our doctors are mission minded,” Morsch said. “We encourage volunteering and that drew people to us.”
Any time there’s a need, HHI puts out the call and Docs Who Care answers: anything from goodwill missions or disasters like the earthquake response in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, or even closer to home like the tornado in Joplin. HHI’s response in Haiti was the largest partnership with Docs Who Care with two dozen volunteers traveling to the devastated country, and several volunteers traveling there more than once.
DWC’s first employee, Debbie Edwards, was a part of that early response in Haiti and will never forget the looks on peoples’ faces. “They were in shock from everything they had seen and from sleeping on the ground,” Edwards said. “It had such an impact on my life.”
The partnership with Docs Who Care continues today as both organizations respond to the crisis in eastern Europe. Partnerships like this help HHI’s mission to improve healthcare access both in the U.S. and abroad.