Emergency Medicine

Buresh receives Distinguished Alumni Award

Chris Buresh (MD ’01, residency ‘06), MPH, a clinical associate professor at the University of Iowa Department of Emergency Medicine, has been selected for recognition as a 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award for Early Career Development. Since 1963 the University of Iowa Alumni Association has presented the award, its highest honor, to acknowledge the service or achievement of alumni and friends.

After graduating from the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) 2001, Buresh, who was at that time a medical resident in North Carolina, agreed to join a team traveling to Haiti to provide medical relief. Buresh was shocked by the level of poverty and need for basic medical care confronting their team. He estimates making 20 to 30 trips to Haiti since his initial journey in 2003, including a trip that ended just three days before the earthquake hit in 2010.

Immediately after the earthquake, Buresh and several colleagues rushed back to Haiti to assist with emergency relief. At that time, Buresh and his colleagues were assisting with disaster relief in the city of Leogane. Soon they realized that cities in Haiti were flooded with aid groups. But in remote areas where half of Haiti’s population lives, people had no access to the resources provided by relief efforts. Additionally, although emergency aid groups were helping with disaster relief, the main source of medical need in Haiti is generated from chronic illnesses. Treating these types of illnesses requires continuous care as opposed to one-time aid.

To provide the need for continuous care, Buresh, along with medical school friend Josh White, launched the non-profit Community Health Initiative. In 2011 the initiative set-up in a corner of rural Haiti to offer primary medical care to those usually without access. The team then returns to the same area four times a year which allows initiative workers to better manage and treat chronic conditions. Buresh and his initiative colleagues continue to strive to provide quality health care for the people of Haiti.