Medical mission trip brings local back to Philippines

Physical therapist Glen Quebral of GracePointe Crossing looks to make a difference

By Elizabeth Sias

For two weeks, Glen Quebral will translate for Filipinos in need of medical care ranging from intensive surgeries to simple dental procedures.

Glen Quebral, a physical therapist at GracePointe Crossing, is traveling to his hometown of Alaminos, Pangasinan, in the Philippines on Jan. 26 on a medical mission trip with the Philippine Minnesota Medical Association. Photo by Elizabeth Sias

Quebral, a physical therapist at GracePointe Crossing, leaves Jan. 26 for the Philippines. He’s one of 75 doctors and nurses donating their time on a medical mission trip to provide free medical care to impoverished residents.

“It’s a Third World country, so before they think of paying for medications or going to the hospital, they have to prepare food for their family,” Quebral said.

The trips are sponsored by the Philippine Minnesota Medical Association, a nonprofit organization of physicians in Minnesota and neighboring states with ties to the Filipino community.

The group takes a mission trip every two years, but this is Quebral’s first. And this time, they happen to be traveling to Quebral’s hometown of Alaminos, Pangasinan, and then to Bataan. This will be his first time home since he moved to the United States several years ago.

“In 2010, I was still establishing myself and my career here,” Quebral said. “This time, I’m ready to go back and serve the community.”

The Philippine Minnesota Medical Association takes a mission trip to a different city in the Philippines every two years to provide free medical care to impoverished residents.Photo courtesy the Philippine Minnesota Medical Association Facebook page

Quebral started working as a physical therapist in the Philippines in 1996. When he moved to Minnesota and began working at GracePointe Crossing, he underwent additional training to meet the requirements of the Minnesota Board of Physical Therapy.

His brother is Dr. Bernard Quebral, a physician in Woodbury and former president of the Philippine Minnesota Medical Association who helped organize and will lead this trip. He also came up with the idea for medical missions, the first of which took place in 2002.

“My brother and I were born and grew up in Alaminos, so it’s like homecoming for both of us,” Glen Quebral said. “I’m excited to return and see family and friends again. I’ve been having sleepless nights now. Some of my classmates have already sent e-mails to me saying they’re looking forward to seeing me again after a while.”

The mission trips have grown with the organization and the continued need for medical care of Filipinos in poverty. This time, the group plans to examine thousands of people during the two-week trip.

Quebral said they’ll perform a variety of medical, surgical and dental procedures, including reconstructive surgery, tumor removal, hysterectomies and much more. As a physical therapist native to the Philippines, Quebral will provide those in need with canes, walkers and wheelchairs, as well as translate for hundreds or thousands of patients.

Hundreds of people wait in line for free medical care.

“I’ll be working as one of the interpreters,” he said. “We’ll be working with and seeing patients who are less fortunate, who were not able to go to school or can’t afford to pay for their medical expenses, so there’s a high need for interpreters.”

The medical association partnered with nonprofit organization Hope for the City, which collected and donated three cargo trucks full of medical supplies and equipment that were shipped earlier.

Most of it comes from hospitals that are no longer using the equipment as they make upgrades, but in the Philippines, the used equipment is vital.

Not only will the team provide medical assistance, they also use the trip as an opportunity to train Filipino doctors and nurses to use the equipment and advance their skills and knowledge, providing a sustainable foundation for growth in health care.

Local government in the Philippines promotes the mission to raise awareness of its availability, Quebral said. The government also supports the group by providing accommodations and finding donors to offer meals. That way, they can focus all of their resources on the mission instead of having to use their own funds for room and board.

Quebral is looking forward to returning to his homeland and helping the community of Alaminos. While this is his first medical mission trip, he hopes to continue the work his brother helped start, and they both wish to see more trips of this kind from physicians around the country.

“It will be a good experience for me since I worked with them before while I was still in the Philippines. This time, I’ll be one of the delegates from the States,” Quebral said. “Working in my hometown will be very rewarding to be able to share my blessings. Since I moved here to the States, I’ve had blessings, and I think it’s time for me to share.”

For more information on the Philippine Minnesota Medical Association or to donate, visit www.phmma.org.

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