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MedWatch: Munson Medical Center Foreign Travel Clinic

"There’s so many things that a person’s missing if you don’t take a chance."

And Mark Gabrick is doing his best to make sure he doesn’t miss a thing.

"I’ve been to South Africa, which is at the bottom, I’ve been to Namibia, which is over on the East Coast, the Skeletal Coast, and I’ve been to Zimbabwe, which is north of South Africa,” says Mark. “I’ve been down to Brazil, I’ve been up to Alaska."

His travel adventures started more than a decade ago on a safari, and he’s learned a lot since then, like checking in with Munson Medical Center’s Foreign Travel Clinic every time.

"The Foreign Travel Clinic is all set up for people traveling all over the world for a variety of causes, whether it be vacation, mission work or just to explore the opportunity to be as safe as possible by getting them ready for their trips," explains Mark.

That starts with vaccinations.

"The vaccination requirements differ from country to country, so we take a look at what’s needed, and we take a look at what’s optional, and we do what we can to make sure they stay safe in other areas other than just vaccinations."

Nurse Lorraine Beers says they can give out preventative medications, things that aren’t always easily accessible abroad.

"We’re talking what we can do to prevent malaria, what kind of medications they need for example if they’re traveling up to altitudes and what kind of other communicable diseases that aren’t vaccine preventable that we may be able to help them avoid," explains Lorraine.

And with the medication comes some much needed advice, especially for those who may not be seasoned travelers headed to second or third world countries.

"The CDC has a saying, which is boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it, which really makes a lot of sense. If you’re drinking water you need to make sure the water is safe. Don’t ever drink water from an unsealed bottle regardless of where you are, be very careful of ice cubes," says Lorraine.

Mark says the clinic has been invaluable for him.

"You get into another country, one thing people don’t realize, a third world country like parts of Africa, and some of those a little thing can become a big thing really fast," he says.

Mark is one of thousands of patients Lorraine has seen over the years.

And she has found one thing she can’t treat — the travel bug.

Even she has it. 

"I’ve sent people all over the world. I’ve sent people to islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I’ve sent people to Greenland, I can’t think of a country I haven’t sent them to,” says Lorraine. 

And for good reason.

"Almost everyone who comes back form travel has their life changed. You have your life changed, your perspective has changed and you have a true appreciation not only of the way other people live, but of the fact that we are all citizens of the world."

Another tip from Lorraine: bring your own SPF and Deet products.

She says if you’re planning a trip, get your vaccination records in line, and try to get in to the clinic at least six weeks before you leave.