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New physician bikes to Maine
Jeanie Zelinski and Clayton Bell stand beside one of the bikes they rode from Arkansas to Maine.
RUMFORD -- Clayton Bell, MD, will soon join six other physicians entering the Central Maine Medical Center Family Medicine Residency.
Following his first year at Lewiston, he will become part of Swift River Family Medicine Rural Track Residency and Rumford Hospital.
He received his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine. Bell searched for a residency program that would include rural experience or even wilderness medicine. He had imagined himself in the West, but discovered the CMMC Rural Track Residency in Rumford and came to visit. Captivated by the mountains and the sea, Bell decided to come to Maine for his residency.
Bell didn't travel to Maine from his home state of Arkansas in the usual manner. He rode his bike 2,500 miles in six weeks along the Appalachian Mountains. The trek was not undertaken solely for the beautiful scenery or the good exercise. Bell is part of the Bisiklet for Haiti Tour, raising funds for the Humanity First Primary School and Community Health Workers Program in Haiti.
Bell says that before the Haitian earthquake several years ago he knew nothing about the island. When he heard of the devastation, however, he wanted to do whatever he could to help. He became a Humanity First volunteer and travelled to Haiti. "You find yourself where you want to be," he says of the experience. What was to have been a month of volunteering stretched into two years.
His volunteer stint began in the capital, Port -au-Prince, which was the center of earthquake devastation. Soon he realized that most, if not all, the humanitarian efforts were concentrated in the city. He and a Haitian companion backpacked into the mountains and discovered villages with no medical services for miles around.
They began slowly taking care of medical needs and educating the Haitians about nutrition. In the end they were able to rehabilitate an old clinic and bring in other medical professionals, including a Haitian physician, to serve the wide rural area.