A cooperative effort between Mercy Hospital Fort Smith and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Guyana is helping groups on both side of the border think globally and act locally.

Dr. Karen Butters of St. Joseph’s in Georgetown, Guyana, said Wednesday during a panel discussion at Mercy’s Hennessy Education Center that Mercy’s Global Health Ministry created in 2016 is “mutually reinforcing.” As Martin Schreiber, vice president for Mission at Mercy, says, it also has helped create a “wider perspective on global health.”

Butters said Guyana has the highest suicide rate in the world, and its poorest people struggle to make ends meet. Issues of homelessness and food insecurity are also dealt with in Fort Smith, and Mercy doctors here have found a boost of inspiration when working with counterparts in other countries, according to Dr. Sean Baker of Mercy Fort Smith.

“It’s helpful for us when we see what Dr. Butters is going through,” Baker said. “We have our own work here in Fort Smith that we need to do as well … I think sometimes it’s important for us all to get outside of our normal box, to share our struggles with people in other places, and they may have other ideas, and together we may be able to work out solutions.”

As noted in previous Times Record reports, Mercy has recently opened a clinic at the new Riverview Hope Campus on Fourth Street to help treat the local homeless and impoverished populations.

Baker went on to ask the other physicians in the room if they have also “felt empowered and emboldened and developed a new passion” for their work after volunteering in another country. Baker told the story of working with nuns in Peru and in Haiti after natural disasters.

Mercy hospitalist Dr. Paul Bean said the partnership with Butters at St. Joseph Mercy in Georgetown has been “fulfilling,” “rewarding,” and given him an opportunity to make suggestions that indirectly also helps Mercy. Butters, in turn, admired Mercy Fort Smith’s exemplary teamwork and said the collaboration has helped her gain confidence and assertiveness. She said she took Bean’s suggestions.

“Surprise to me, they worked,” Butters said to laughs.

During the Fort Smith site visit this week, Butters has met and gathered ideas from several Mercy providers.

Martin Schreiber, vice president for Mission at Mercy, also said the visit is mutually beneficial. Schreiber moderated the discussion and asked the doctors, as well as Sisters Mary Fanning and Chabanel Finnegan simply, “Why do we do this?”

“Why with all these problems, waking up every day and the constant barrage of emails or the pain that we see, why would you look beyond that, to do something for someone where you may not have even know how to located on a map?” Schreiber asked.

The answers, essentially were reflected in comments by Fanning and Finnegan that alluded to the inability to solve all of the world’s problems, but they followed the example of Sisters of Mercy founder Catherine McAuley.

“We live in a global world and we have to be aware of the needs both locally and internationally,” Finnegan said.