MISSOULA, Mont. -

I left today to join the team on their mission to improve medical care and access to it in impoverished communities.

The first step in providing care is to pack supplies.  I recently met with volunteers at Community Medical Center in Missoula, who packed up several crates of supplies for surgery, physicals and gynecological exams and treatment of infections.  

Missoula Medical Aid Director, Fred Westereng explained that these are  "...things like medicines, vitamins, testing diagnostic equipment and all the accessories we need to make those trips fruitful.  We personally are going to use these crates as our checked luggage, so, whatever we want personally, we have to carry on our person."

One team will travel to a rural area where it is difficult for residents to seek medical care.

"We do a lot of well-child checks.  We do a lot of hands-on physical exams.  We treat infections." Westereng added.

A second team from Missoula is a surgical team.  

"They are going to work in the hospital and just do work there for a week," said Westereng.

Missoula medical professionals and volunteers first went to Honduras in 1998, to offer emergency aid after Hurricane Mitch.  Now up to 60 volunteers go to that country during two to three separate visits every year.

The mission of Missoula Medical Aid has expanded to providing improved health through several outreach programs including agricultural, nutritional and dental programs.  

I am joining the teams in Honduras this week and will be compiling detailed coverage of their efforts in coming weeks.