Describe the aims of the Memphis Mission of Mercy.
Memphis Mission of Mercy is a family-run, not-for-profit organization founded by my mother, Norma
Zalamea, RN, and my father, Renato Zalamea, CRNA.
This organization has delivered short-term medical and
surgical care to various communities in the Philippines
annually, and sometimes biannually, since 1999. Our
model has been short-term medical and surgical care, in
the form of open clinic and elective major operations.
Our scope of care primarily includes otolaryngology
and general surgery procedures, with an average of 40
major surgical cases per mission. Our team continues
to evolve from relationships with health care professionals, family, and friends who either live, work, or
have trained in Memphis. This net work has generated
a log of more than 150 volunteers.
Why did your parents start Memphis Mission of
My parents are both from the Philippines and started
Memphis Mission of Mercy because they saw an opportunity to serve our native country. In 1998, my father
participated in a mission trip to Guyana organized
by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
(AANA). While there, he taught professionals about
regional anesthesia, covering everything from blocks
to spinals and epidurals. On the way back to the U.S.,
he was thinking about what he might be able to accomplish in the Philippines, an area of even greater need.
John Hodges, MD, FACS, an ear, nose, and throat
(ENT) plastic surgeon, overheard my father discussing the idea with a colleague in the recovery room at
Methodist Hospital in Memphis and offered to be our
first volunteer physician. The rest is history.
How do patients find out about the Memphis Mis-
sion of Mercy?
We share and promote the Mission of Mercy work in
targeted communities in various ways: through social
media, via local community health care providers and
social workers, friends and family of volunteers who
spread the word in their communities, previous patients
who have friends or family with health care needs,
and area leaders and politicians with whom we have
worked in the past and who follow our movement in
the country. The local military, police, and clergy also
help to promote the upcoming missions to people in
remote and mountainous areas using open speakers
on trucks, at health fairs, announcements at church
services, and so on.
What criteria must patients meet to receive care
through the Memphis Mission of Mercy?
Memphis Mission of Mercy partners with local social
workers, community health workers, and hospital administrators to focus on patients with limited
resources. We have no hard and fast financial line. The
local community leaders and workers help us target
Victorias, December 11, 2015: The sugar cane fields where some of the mission’s patients work
SEP 2017 BULLETIN American College of Surgeons