sources contribute by saving us out-of-pocket expense.
Our annual short-term medical and surgical mission
work has an average cost of approximately $15,000,
which serves an average of 1,800 patients in clinic and
65 in surgery, for a per patient cost of $7.82. If we perform a surgery-only mission, our annual cost is down
What educational resources do your efforts use?
I am working with the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) Global
Outreach Committee. We are building the hospital
to accommodate telemedicine capability for the purpose of conducting grand rounds and morbidity and
Where do you see the future of the health care
situation in the areas you serve?
We aim to supplement the existing infrastructure in
the community, and invite others to join us. The academic partnerships need to cross country lines. We
look for ward to partnering with academic institutions
in the Philippines so that the learning is cross-cultural.
We anticipate that by bringing relationships, resources,
and infrastructure to partner with the community, we
may be able to invite people in the community to serve,
as well. Ultimately, we believe that by working in this
sort of international surgery center, we can convene
like-minded and mission-driven people so that in time,
the community and local health care professionals will
be able to sustain it independently.
What advice would you give other health care
providers who want to work with underserved
patients or who are interested in starting similar
I don’t think of any of us as experts in this work, as we
have learned much and continue to learn every day, but
I think the strength and depth of work is dependent on
relationships and need. A great way to begin this kind
of project is by listening to the people around you; be
with the people you serve and get to know them. Try
to understand and ask about their challenges, barriers, and needs. If this is domestic work, find partners
who have similar interests, or other organizations that
may serve your targeted community in a different way.
Find the gaps in the system, and consider whether
you can mold or modify what you do to fill the void.
If our mission is to serve, then we can allow the need
and the people to shape how and where we serve. All
that mission leaders bring is the “why.” I have found
that every time we try to recruit surgeons and other
physicians to serve with us, they never give “no” as their
answer. The barriers that keep people from serving are
the same challenges that affect any of our decisions:
financial, family, work commitments, and so on. It is a
matter of finding a mutually compatible time.
You mentioned a parallel between your inter-
national outreach work and serving low-income
patients in Memphis. Could you expand on that
concept a bit?
Domestically, I have worked in a private for-profit setting, then a private not-for-profit setting, and now I am
in an academic-affiliated, hospital-employed practice.
In working for a not-for-profit and now working for a
hospital, I have been blessed with the opportunity to
target my work to the under- and uninsured. While at
the not-for-profit Church Health Center, we partnered
with a hospital that gave us the financial backing to
Ultimately, we believe that by working in this sort of international
surgery center, we can convene like-minded and mission-driven people so that in time, the community and local health
care professionals will be able to sustain it independently.