Saturday, December 5th, 2020

Montero Medical Missions Story


MONTERO MEDICAL MISSIONS

Wherever the need appears

by Candance Moore


Dr. Juan Montero

Dr. Juan Montero

When Juan Montero, MD landed on Philippine soil in 1981 for a routine short-term mission trip, he found his life's great calling. Already a successful surgeon, proud father, and respected Chesapeake citizen, he'd returned to his Philippine homeland in search of something more. What he found was the start of a charitable vision that would shape the rest of his life.

This vision eventually blossomed into Montero Medical Missions, a Chesapeake-based foundation with local and global medical outreach that tackles the biggest challenges of our generation. From the slums of East Asia to the veteran crisis in America to the opioid epidemic touching families rich or poor, Montero Medical Missions is responding. Perhaps most amazingly, the foundation is doing it all without a single paid staff member.


From the slums of East Asia
to the veteran crisis in America
to the opioid epidemic
touching families rich or poor,
Montero Medical Missions
is responding.
Perhaps most amazingly,
the foundation is doing it all
without a single paid staff member.


He's a very busy man since retirement, lending his name and his time to a litany of social initiatives. In spite of Dr. Montero's high visibility in Hampton Roads, he is genuinely engaging and refreshingly modest. He speaks of Montero Medical Missions, not in terms of numbers or metrics, but in light of the tremendous needs that the foundation seeks to fill.

He speaks of the Philippines, a strategic U.S. ally where third-world slums continue to belie the nation's value. He speaks of a fact-finding trip along Sri Lanka's forgotten countryside where desperate men often join the army just to have a job. Closer to home, he speaks of troubled veterans in affluent neighborhoods privately suffering until they die by suicide. A crisis, as he explains, is no respecter of persons. His frustration begins to show over the fact that he can't do enough to save them all.

"How can we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide and not think we're losing a war?" he asks. "How can a nation this wealthy forfeit so many lives to addiction, homelessness, PTSD, and lack of access to basic healthcare? We're letting so many slip away. This is unconscionable."

That fighting spirit drove a young Dr. Montero to get involved in missions many years ago. Per Philippine tradition, his parents had chosen his career and ultimately sent him to the United States in 1966. Although he found success in general and thoracic surgery at Norfolk's DePaul Hospital, he felt he'd been created for a different purpose.

It began with that trip in 1981. When Norfolk's esteemed Dr. Charles Horton founded Physicians for Peace a few years later, Dr. Montero signed up for more work in the Philippines. Soon his life became a blur of professional practice, raising four sons, coaching baseball every summer, and nursing his newfound passion for charity. He served with Physicians for Peace as he mulled over thoughts of starting his own foundation.

Chesapeake Care Clinic owes its existence to Dr. Montero. That was his first real initiative, pulled off so well that it has served countless of Chesapeake's most vulnerable citizens for 27 years and counting. Once the clinic was able to function without him, he gave it his blessing and moved on with other projects. Montero Medical Missions formally began in 2011.

His work in East Asia is all about recruiting ex-pats to return and give back. It emphasizes brotherly love for a nation and its people, not simply Westerners visiting as a favor. It builds sustainability through teaching methods and techniques to the local practitioners. It's a matter of sharing more than giving, preserving the dignity and long-term health of developing countries. Primary areas of focus are eyesight, dental, prosthetics, and well-woman care.

One huge obstacle in the Philippines is its archipelago landscape. Dozens of islands are scattered across the South Pacific in such a way that inter-island highways are impossible. To get around this, Dr. Montero sought to build a mobile clinic capable of visiting multiple islands in one day. Montero Medical Missions is presently fundraising for the purchase of a custom fiberglass boat.

To facilitate better interaction between Hampton Roads and Asia, Dr. Montero recently joined Chesapeake's Sister City Association. Chesapeake has one sister city in Brazil at the moment. Since so many of the area's medical professionals are doing missions elsewhere, Dr. Montero reasons that more sister cities ought to be set up in places that Chesapeake foundations tend to frequent. Seeking no accolades for this, he's already been quietly meeting with city leaders.

Meanwhile, in Hampton Roads, the foundation has also partnered with STOP to build a mobile clinic for opioid addiction among homeless and low-income citizens. For at-risk veterans who feel locked out of the system, semi-annual health fairs offer guidance. Upscale Rescale, the foundation's retailer of high-end pre-owned goods, has provided funding since 2016. There's also an annual golf tournament at Virginia Beach's Honeybee course in August.


"How can we lose 22 veterans a day
and not think we're losing a war?
How can a nation this wealthy
forfeit so many lives to addiction, homelessness, PTSD,
and lack of access to basic health care?
We're letting so many slip away.
This is unconscionable."

- Dr. Juan Montero

"We don't pay professional marketers to drum up support for us," Dr. Montero notes. "There's no payroll on our board - none. The good news is we're putting all proceeds into the mission. The downside is we sometimes need a little help to get the word out. We're always open to partnering with new people who can offer assistance."

To this end, and to help the general public get involved, Montero Medical Missions is hosting its very first annual gala at Chesapeake Conference Center in November. The event will feature Carolyn Castleberry as emcee, with a special appearance by TowneBank CEO and accomplished pianist Morgan Davis. TowneBank has even signed on as Presenting Sponsor.

An excited Dr. Montero, as energetic as people half his age, runs through a wish list of what he would do with more funds. His days are full of meetings, proposals, planning sessions, and spontaneous chats with anyone who seems to be in need.

"As long as the good Lord sees fit to have me here, I'll be busy helping people," Dr. Montero says with a smile. "There's more work to be done. I'm not slowing down."




Montero Medical Missions


www.MonteroMedicalMissions.org