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Humanitarian Trips

Our department is excited to be able to offer mission trip opportunities to our residents. Our upper level residents may take mission trips to areas faced with social, economic and health challenges. While assessing and providing the healthcare needs of an international community can present challenges and obstacles, it can also provide unique and rewarding opportunities. We strongly feel that experiences from this trip will not only enhance their education, equipping them to surmount future challenges in the medical field, but also to have a significant positive impact on the lives of people and communities in desperate need of medical care. Specialists are particularly welcomed as they bring a level of care that is rarely accessible to these populations. They are often in demand to care for unique cases and to provide a higher level of training through education for the staff and local medical community.

This program will be an enriching experience for otolaryngology residents and a boon to those in need. We hope you continue to support and encourage our residents in this endeavor. Please consider making a gift to the Otolaryngology Resident Mission Fund to help with the residents' trip expenses and purchasing a small instrument set to use on the trips. Go online to UMMC's Office of Development or call (601) 815-7469. All donors will receive recognition at the annual resident graduation ceremony.


Migori, Kenya

Dr. Beth Bailey went to Kenya during her fifth year in residency and wrote the following about her trip.

"I went on a mission trip with to Migori, which is in southwest Kenya. They are a Christian organization based out of Alabama, founded by Steve James in memory of his daughter who supported a Kenyan boy for several years before she died unexpectedly at age 19.

" organizes multiple mission trips, medical and non-medical, to Migori each year. In addition to the mission trips, they run an orphanage and provide many other services to the people of Kenya. This year KenyaRelief is sending 20 missionary teams, four of which are ENT teams. I was part of Team 12, one of the ENT teams. The teams typically include physicians, residents, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs and even engineers - we had an engineer accompany us to work on one of the clean water projects. Each medical mission holds clinic and operates in the 6,000-square-foot Brase Clinic and Vision Center that built about six or year years ago and have already outgrown. They are currently raising money for a 300-bed hospital that they will begin construction on later this year or early next year.

"In addition to the health care and medical supplies that the organization provides, has also built a new school that opened in January 2013 - the Kenya Relief Academy, which schools the children of the associated orphanage and children from the surrounding villages - it's located in the same area as the clinic and orphanage. The organization has also drilled multiple wells and funded several water filtration systems. In addition, they've constructed several churches and new homes for many widows in the community.

"We had about 50 patients show up the day before clinic started and the day of clinic, we had 250 patients waiting outside, many of whom had spent the night in anticipation of our arrival. Our team performed 32 surgeries over three days, the majority of which were goiters, but we also did a thyroglossal duct cyst, total parotidectomy, excision of a supraclavicular tumor and a submandibular gland excision. Our team was fortunate to have a portable Sonosite ultrasound machine loaned to us for this trip so we were able to ultrasound many goiters and other H&N neoplasms, as well as evaluate vocal fold mobility preoperatively and postoperatively. We had clinic for 3.5 days and I believe we saw over 400 hundred patients, although the final tally is still pending.

"The clinic that we worked in is across the street from Brittney's House of Grace, which is where we stayed and is the home to orphans and children from the surrounding villages. This, too, was built and is funded and run by We had the opportunity to interact with all of the children. Currently, there are 77 children of all ages that live in this community, which includes boys' and girls' dorms, a library, kitchen, dining hall, farm and church. The kids go to school and church there, receive medical care, healthy meals and counseling all through this organization. It's really remarkable! The children are so sweet and have so much love to give, all of them being from very dismal social circumstances. KenyaRelief also has four social workers and multiple dorm parents that care for the children, who may or may not still have family.

"We were able to tour the district hospital in Migori, which is basically the government-run hospital in each Kenyan city. What we saw were very destitute conditions. and this was the most illustrative demonstration of Migori's need for the services of KenyaRelief.

After clinic, we spent the last two days on a safari at the Masai Mara game reserve. We saw lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, elephants, water buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, wildebeest, baboons, etc. It was amazing!"


Nalerigu, Ghana

Dr. Ryan Case went to Ghana as a PGY-4, and he wrote the following about his trip.

"I went on my first international mission trip to Nalerigu, Ghana. The Baptist Medical Center in Nalerigu provides much needed medical care to northern Ghana while delivering the good news of Jesus Christ. The hospital might seem quite foreign to American patients due to the facilities, and lack of technology. This does not seem to hinder the dedicated nurses, staff, and doctors who deliver care to approximately 60,000 patients annually in a nurturing Christian environment.

"I accompanied two physicians: Dr. Robert Battle, an anesthesiologist, and Dr. Fred Rushton, a vascular surgeon, on this trip. Fortunately for me, Dr. Battle and Dr. Rushton had been to Nalerigu numerous times and were very familiar with challenges of traveling, the local culture and hospital staff. Each day during my stay, my primary role was to perform and assist with surgery; repairs of hernias and hydroceles were probably the two most common operations we performed although there was certainly a wide range of procedures performed.

"For me, one of the most challenging aspects of the trip was traveling to and from Ghana. The transatlantic flight was about 13 hours and then in-country travel both by plane and bus was another eight hours. This spoke volumes to me about the people who regularly undergo significant cost just to reach a desolate area that is in so much need. The staff at the hospital was also an amazing group. While they were fortunate to have a job in an area where most people barely carve out a living by farming an inhospitable land, they were accustomed to doing more with less resources. This commitment to their work and dedication to the patients in Nalerigu did much to make great strides toward compensating for the financial and infrastructural deficits that the hospital faces.

"I cannot say enough in appreciation for those that gave freely of their time and money to make the trip a reality for me. They have lead by example in showing generosity that I will do my best to emulate by continuing to be a part of international medical missions throughout my career and supporting others with an interest to pursue this ministry."



While a PGY-3 resident, Dr. Neal Burkhalter described his humanitarian trip to Trinidad.

"I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a program called Advanced Medical Leadership Training 2011 (AMLT) in Trinidad. This was the 13th annual AMLT, a weeklong intensive training by Mission to the World designed to train medical personnel in leading teams into the developing world in order to support the local churches operating there.

"Led by the medical directors of Mission to the World (MTW) and a team of and seven other faculty members, the course gives intensive didactic and hands-on experience in dealing with some of the unique problems one inevitably encounters leading a healthcare team into a developing nation.

"How do you ensure your water is clean and safe? How do you know your food is safe even if you didn't prepare it? How do I diagnose and properly treat TB in a village with no electricity? How do you safely evacuate your team when, as you're packing up your clinic, the 150 patients yet to be seen begin to riot? How do you deal with a local national physician providing substandard care in your clinic? These, and others like it, are the situations for which this course prepared us.

"We spent most of the week in Piarco with six days of didactic teaching on everything from medical updates on TB, malaria, and helminthic infections to the logistics of running a clinic in an underdeveloped, rural village to the history of global missions. The team consisted of 15 physicians, one non-medical spouse, one nurse and one marriage and family therapist.

"We spent two days holding general medical clinics in two local villages. The patient load was moderately high seeing approximately 80 patients a day. In the second village we were able to spend some time surveying various aspects of the community from a public health perspective.

"At the end of the week, I had certainly been medically, spiritually, and emotionally stretched. I left with much more confidence in handling some of the myriad of situations that may arise leading a team into an underdeveloped region."


Catacamas, Olancho, Honduras

During his fourth year in residency, Dr. Byron Norris traveled to Catacamas, Olancho, Honduras and shared some of his experiences and photos from the trip.

"I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras to participate in a surgical brigade. The team consisted of a plastic surgeon with ENT and hand training, a neuroradiologist, a rheumatologist, two trauma nurses, a certified nurse anesthetist, a scrub technician, and myself, a fourth year ENT resident. The team was organized through Predisan, a Christian Mission founded to provide physical healing and spiritual hope to the people of Eastern Honduras. Our group was stationed in Catacamas, a city of 35,000 people in the Olancho region of Honduras.

"Spending nearly a week in the village, our team evaluated over 30 patients and performed 20 surgeries. Operations varied from complex to relatively simple; however, residents of Catacamas and the surrounding regions do not have access to even simple, outpatient surgeries.

"Especially memorable was Mario Edguardo Mencia, a 7-year-old male with labio leporino, or cleft lip deformity. Mario was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and had undergone 4 previous surgeries for repair of the defect. Unfortunately, Mario's repairs were unsuccessful and he presented for evaluation to the Predisan clinic with a persistent defect. Because of the defect, Mario experienced difficulty eating and speaking and suffered significant social stigmata from the cosmetic defect that generally is repaired as an infant.

"While Mario's complex deformity will require many operations to correct, this repair provided initial closure of the lip defect. By correcting the position of the badly scared tissue, we hope that Mario may have further surgery by future brigades. Days after the repair, we visited Mario in his home for postoperative follow-up. Mario's parents welcomed our team into their home and expressed their sincere gratitude for allowing their son to achieve a sense of normalcy.

"The surgical brigade was not without its challenges. Rough terrain, frequent power outages, access to supplies and medications, and communication barriers were only a few of the obstacles of operating in a remote village in an underdeveloped country. However, we provided a service not available to a community, and many patients, such as Mario Mencia, will be able to experience a better quality of life because of our efforts."