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5280.com Exclusive: Get Involved: Village Health Partnership
Doctors were scarce and stillbirths were common in the Ethiopian backcountry where Denver dermatologist Margaret “Migs” Muldrow was raised. At the age of 13, Muldrow left Africa with her parents. Today, she runs the Denver-based nonprofit Village Health Partnership.
Name: Dr. Margaret “Migs” Muldrow
Occupation: Dermatologist, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center
Factoid: Villagers where Muldrow grew up relied on rubbing toothpicks together to make fire.
When did you know you wanted to help the people from your home country?
I knew if I went back, the floodgates would open and I would do everything I could to move people in the country to a better place. In 2008, my dad was getting old and wanted to go out to the bush one more time. I took him; it didn’t take long before I knew I had to find a way to help.
That one trip hooked you?
Seeing my hospital from when I was a kid—it was in such a poor, dilapidated state. I asked the medical director why they didn’t do better infection control. He said I wouldn’t understand: We are two docs for a million people. I did understand; I grew up there.
How are Denver doctors involved?
Within the medical community, I talk about what we’re doing. Last year, it was: Bring me your medical textbooks. This year, I needed equipment. A high-risk OB-GYN came with me [to Ethiopia] in December. We are expanding; people are coming to us.
What’s on the horizon for you and your organization?
Next year we will start more prevention efforts. We’ll build a maternity halfway house and start working on a health center that will be a model for a birthing center. Students at the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies recommended starting an internship program, and I sent three students to Ethiopia with health care–related projects to work on.
Why did you decide to focus on women?
In the back of my mind was the memory of a woman in childbirth dying. I was a child. I asked one clinic if they delivered babies. They deliver at home. I asked what happens if they have complications. They die. If we focus the health care on women, we can lift up the whole community.