Penn Highlands Healthcare Doctors Beyond the Borders

Doctors impact lives every day! In the U.S., National Doctors’ Day is observed on March 30 every year to honor physicians for the role they play in the lives of their patients and their communities. Penn Highlands Healthcare offers 849 physicians who provide a wide range of care and treatments at locations throughout 26 counties in Pennsylvania. Penn Highlands Healthcare physicians can be found in the health system’s eight hospitals as well as many community medical buildings, outpatient facilities, surgery centers and physician practices. Some Penn Highlands Healthcare physicians do not allow county, state or continental borders to keep them from providing care where it is needed.

Preserving Heritage by Helping in Israel

Shortly after the October 2023 Hamas attacks in Gaza and Israel, Allan Tissenbaum, MD, and his wife Charlene, put any fears aside about what they may be encountering and were on a plane to provide help.

Dr. Tissenbaum, who is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Penn Highlands Orthopedics and Sports Medicine — in Rostraver Township, Pennsylvania, went to the site of the attacks in Israel to provide medical care to those injured.

“As the son of a holocaust survivor, I saw this attack as a threat to my people’s survival, Dr. Tissenbaum explained.

For the last seven years, the Tissenbaums have been members of Emergency Volunteer Program (EVP) that Charlene brought to Pittsburgh. The organization began as firefighters that respond to situations in Israel and has grown to include medical corps. EVP’s mission is to train and send physicians, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and other community volunteers to Israel when needed.

“Last October when the situation occurred, the organization solicited volunteers to help over there. We were deployed to Israel and we arrived, the situation was under control. The Israeli medical community was able to cope with the load.”

During the two weeks the Tissenbaums were deployed in Israel, he trained at Israeli Defense Federation facilities.

“I would go back for a medical trip in a second and I am not alone. My wife, brother, sister and holocaust survivor mother are going to do volunteer work there in the near future,” Dr. Tissenbaum added.

Bringing Better Health to Diverse Populations

Shane Sergent, DO, believes in identifying disease before it happens — not just treating it. Dr. Sergent, who is an emergency medicine physician and the Central Region Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Penn Highlands Healthcare, shares his skills and expertise beyond the U.S. borders in Central and South America. He is immediate past president of DOCARE International, a medical outreach organization dedicated to sustainable healthcare and education in under-resourced communities around the world. Dr. Sergent also served as Clinical Faculty and Medical Director of Global Health and Research at Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (MSUCOM) Institute of International Health, and as Clinical Faculty and Professor Honorario at Universidad César Vallejo in Trujillo, Peru. He has been involved with MSUCOM’s Peru Outreach program since 2009, implementing numerous research and health initiatives.

Dr. Sergent began going outside the U.S. in 2009 with a medical trip to the Andes Mountains where he was working in an altitude of more than 14,000 feet. Since then, he and his wife, a fellow physician, accompanied by their daughter, have provided healthcare in Peru. He also has been on medical trips to Belize and Guatemala.

“I have been to a lot of different locations,” said Dr. Sergent. “Most recently, we have been focused on developing healthcare access in the Peru Amazon River region working closely with physicians there. When we visit remote communities, we have worked in hospitals, churches and even off boats.”

Treating both children and adults, Dr. Sergent has been providing care for communicable and non-communicable diseases as the region grows.

“We do a lot of medical screening and offer medications for disease maintenance and treatment,” said Dr. Sergent. “We have incorporated research into our trips to look at disease prevention with water quality and vaccinations. Much of the research we do is focused on environmental impacts of health.”

Dr. Sergent finds the time he spends in Central and South America to be invaluable experiences.

“I truly appreciate the opportunities I have had working with these populations. I feel that it has improved my development of being a physician, honed my ability to think like a researcher, and made me more aware of health disparities. I hope to continue this support in our local communities in the same capacity.”

Inspired to Help Our Troops and the Underserved

Growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, Michelle Mouria, MD, FACS, a board-certified surgeon specializing in trauma emergencies with Penn Highlands General Surgery in DuBois, witnessed religious and racial struggles among different groups. At the age of 17, when she emigrated to the U.S. with her family, she embraced the freedoms and protections that this country offers and pursued an education in medicine.

“I used my newfound opportunities and was inspired by the chance to address the societal inequities in healthcare that I witnessed firsthand, as well as the global crisis characterized by war, famine, poverty and disease,” explained Dr. Mouria. “I decided to pursue a career in surgery in order to provide the most immediate and life-saving care to patients most desperately in need.”

Dr. Mouria served as a general surgeon at an inner-city hospital in Chicago and at a variety of stations throughout the U.S., Guam and Cambodia to reach out to populations in need. In 2019, when she heard stories from a patriotic Marine combat veteran, she was strongly motivated to join the Army Medical Reserve.

“Listening to stories about his deployment in Afghanistan, I realized that my passion to help others in dire need in austere humanitarian environments could be extended to our soldiers — the most worthy men and women who sacrifice to defend our country,” explained Dr. Mouria, “I want to help our injured soldiers at the most forward frontline; to do life-saving trauma surgery so they can make it back home.”

Dr. Mouria was deployed to Syria with her Forward Surgical Team in 2022 to perform resuscitative damage control surgery and to stabilize the severely injured soldiers so they could be transported for further definitive repair of their injuries. The team was also ready to provide care to potential civilian casualties and the local coalition force.

In December 2023 and January 2024, Dr. Mouria volunteered in a poor underserved missionary hospital in Zambia through the World Medical Mission. While in Southern Africa, with limited resources, she provided surgical care such as emergency C-sections, hysterectomies, pediatric and adult hernia surgeries as well as intestinal cases and wound care. She also provided training to family physicians there teaching them surgical procedures.

“Providing care to injured soldiers and in underserved hospitals is humbling, yet a rewarding endeavor in the server of these patients,” Dr. Mouria added.