Debra Fried began traveling to Nicaragua more than 15 years ago to participate with Mayflower Medical Outreach in an audiologic/otologic medical mission. Since her first trip, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the hearing-impaired community in the rural, coffee-producing town of Jinotega. She carved time out of her busy career as an audiologist and coordinator of audiology services at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York to make multiple trips per year, providing comprehensive and on-going services to the people of Nicaragua. Her relentless servitude earned her the positions as the director of audiology and a member of the board of directors for Mayflower Medical Outreach, Inc.
Despite her clinical and managerial responsibilities at Mount Sinai, Debra Fried knew she wanted to expand her footprint and bring her services to those in need. However, she was not content in simply bringing her services to overlooked populations, but rather she wanted to change the landscape of a community by creating opportunities for sustainable health-care access. Her achievements with the Mayflower Medical Outreach team cross the boundaries of audiology, medicine, and education.
Debra’s accomplishments in Nicaragua over the past 15 years are impressive. She designed and implemented an audiometric technician training program for the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) with grant support from the Hearing the World Foundation. This program now has more than a dozen Nicaraguan graduates who provide hearing care in their own country. She doesn’t stop there. With a grant from the Oticon Foundation, she designed and implemented an early hearing loss detection program in Jinotega. She cofounded the International Humanitarian Hearing Aid Purchasing Program (IHHAPP), which is designed to provide low-cost, high-quality hearing aids to low-resource environments. Each of her actions and accomplishments indicates she is the epitome of a servant leader. Her service is not just for a moment, not just for two weeks out of a year, but rather for a lifetime committed to lift and lead the hearing-impaired people of Jinotega on a path to self-sufficiency and access to sustainable hearing health care.