gastroenteritis and intestinal parasites; acute myocardial
infarction; acute urinary tract infection skin lesions; and
infections, often related to trauma and resultant wounds.
Our collaborative efforts have served this community eight times on short-term missions, and each time
we have been invited to include surrounding island
communities of need.
What is the ratio of physicians to patients in the
region that you will be serving through this col-
From the city of Victorias, a total of 20 surgeons are
within one-hour driving distance of a population totaling more than 600,000. This total does not include
the communities that access care in Victorias by boat.
These surgeons are of various disciplines (orthopaedics,
general surgery, and so on), but patients with limited
resources are unable to access such care on an elective
or planned basis. As a result, many people obtain care
only in the most catastrophic of circumstances—not
unlike what happens with uninsured patients here in
How did you become interested in the health care
challenges facing patients in Victorias?
We were introduced to the community of Victorias by
an orthopaedic surgeon from the neighboring town of
Bacolod City. He was in Memphis doing some training
at Campbell Clinic Orthopaedics, and when we were
looking for a site, he introduced us to Victorias. What
then followed was a series of eight Memphis Mission
of Mercy short-term visits since 1999. We have come
to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the
community, and the community has done the same
with our mission group.
How do you get funding?
Memphis Mission of Mercy’s funding begins with our
original contributors: my family, our family friends,
and then every volunteer who has come with us, as
well as friends in the community who have supported
our work. Each mission volunteer is responsible for his
or her own plane ticket, but the host community provides board and lodging on our short-term missions.
Our surgical instruments have been donated by area
hospitals in Memphis, but we also have a relationship
with Scanlan International, which has generously supplied us with high-quality ear, nose, and throat, plastic,
and general surgery instruments.
With respect to the disposable or nonreusable
supplies we use, we acquire much of that equipment
through donations from hospitals in the Memphis area,
including Methodist Le Bonheur; Regional One Health;
Baptist Memorial; St. Francis; Johnston Memorial Hospital, Abingdon, VA; and Santa Barbara Cottage, CA.
We also purchase supplies through Medical Assistance
Program International, Americares, and Ethicon. We
joke that we are equal opportunity beggars with regard
to resources, supplies, and donations. All of these
Dr. Zalamea (right), with Romulo “Mo” Mocorro, CRNA (left), in their preoperative holding
area with one of Dr. Zalamea’s thyroidectomy patients in Iligan City, October 10, 2016