Over a third of the world doesn’t have access to necessary medicines, according to Humanium, an international children’s rights NGO. Timmy Global Health, based in Indianapolis, exists to combat that issue.
Dr. Chuck Dietzen founded Timmy in 1997. He is a pediatric rehabilitation specialist and the Chief Medical Officer at iSalus Healthcare. He named the organization after his brother who passed away as an infant.
Dr. Dietzen began traveling the world on veterinary trips post-graduation, but soon realized he was in the wrong field.
“My family had around 150 foster kids over the course of 20 years,” Dr. Dietzen said. “My mom finally told me, ‘You know, I think your real calling is to take care of children.’”
After working all over the world, including alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta in 1996, Dr. Dietzen decided to take action to improve global healthcare and involve the field’s professionals and aspiring professionals to join him.
The organization now has 15 staff members, both locally in Indianapolis and on site in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nigeria. In addition, Timmy has chapters at 51 universities and high schools and about 700 volunteers across the country, according to the organization.
Timmy teams take an average of 40 short-term trips per year to the Caribbean and Latin America, treating roughly 15,000 patients, according to Sarah Hollis, Timmy’s Development and Communications Manager.
“We have what’s called the Timmy Triangle: service, advocacy and fundraising,” she said.
Teams of volunteers visit each of the organization’s 10 sites at least every two to three months to treat patients. Apart from direct medical care, the Timmy volunteers, all certified doctors or supervised medical school students, make referrals for further care (which Timmy usually funds), provide medications and update health records for each patient.
“Our purpose is to support mission, not create it,” Dr. Dietzen said. “We don’t go in and put a flag anywhere. Our bylaws state that we must work through established organizations.”
By partnering with existing organizations, Timmy is able to aid their reach, capacity, and quality of service in marginalized areas of the developing world.
“Over time, we’ve honed back and refined our vision to provide the highest quality care to a handful of communities, rather than striving for quantity,” Dr. Brian Egan, Riley Hospital anesthesiologist and Timmy board member, said. “Everything now is a lot more sustained. Relationships are formed. It’s a well-oiled machine.”
Dr. Egan has taken four trips with the organization himself.
“The approach of short-term trips coupled with long-term commitment is what has made the organization so successful,” Hollis said.
“The way I look at it,” Dr. Dietzen said, “public health programs, preventative medicine, nutrition, education, clean water and safety for kids… why wouldn’t I want to be involved in that?”