When traveling on mission trips to Third World countries, Dr. Brent Jacobus says it takes a day to adjust to life without the luxuries most take for granted — including a hot shower.
“After 24 hours you’re good to go,” he said. “You don’t care about getting dirty or touching someone’s open wound because your love and compassion for that person is so much greater.”
Helping others is familiar territory as a doctor, but Jacobus takes his service one step further by reaching out to others beyond the Northwest Indiana community.
Jacobus is director of Vital Injection Medical Missions, a nonprofit organization that provides medical assistance and medications to populations typically in Third World countries. He and his father, Dr. Arlyn Jacobus, who also serves as director, founded the organization as a way to reach out to the unreached people of the world.
“I am a Christian, and I felt the need to give to the less fortunate,” he said. “We’re so blessed in this country, and we wanted to help other people.”
In addition to treating illnesses, the organization’s medical personnel also perform procedures such as minor surgeries and even baby deliveries. Countries they’ve visited include Haiti, Russia, China and Mongolia. They also responded to the Gulf Coast when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
“It always changes you a little bit when you go on a mission trip because you realize it’s a big world out there and there are a lot of people hurting,” Jacobus said.
In addition to teaming up with Fuel International, a regional, nondenominational mission organization, Jacobus also has teamed up with a doctor in his own family practice. For the past 10 years, Dr. Brett Brechner has worked with Vital Injection and says it’s rewarding to be able to share his medical expertise and help others in need.
“It’s an important part in what we do — improving health both physically and spiritually, and improving health locally and worldwide,” Brechner said.
Both physicians also reach out to members of their own community by taking care of entire families.
“We both practice the general practitioners of old,” Brechner said. “We don’t do too many home visits, but we see all ages and we love being able to get involved in people’s lives. Therefore, there’s a trust built between us. It’s very rewarding and we’ve grown to love the patients and families we’ve gotten to know.”
When not traveling the world or seeing local patients at Winfield Family Medicine, the two doctors make their families and their own health a priority.
Both participate in triathlons and Jacobus recently completed an Ironman competition. Finding the time to train and compete can be challenging, however.
“He and I both, our priority is to our families and then to our occupation, taking care of folks,” Brechner said. “But part of that is taking care of ourselves. It’s become important to us to be physically in shape. It’s extra encouragement because it gives me a goal. Otherwise, I’ll sleep a little later and stay on my couch a little longer.”
Jacobus said anyone in the community is welcome to accompany them on mission trips. Donations are accepted as well, with most of the funds going toward the purchase of much needed antibiotics and other medications.
Jacobus noted he and other volunteer medical personnel purchase their own plane tickets, so any funds raised for the missions go directly toward medications and medical supplies.