Going Global

The Going Global blog is an opportunity for emergency physicians to share their experiences practicing and teaching outside the United States. Submit an article about your experience to EMN at emn@lww.com. Be sure to include a brief biography and photographs of the authors. Photos taken during time spent abroad are also welcome, and should be 300 dpi and in jpg, tif, or gif format.

This blog was started by the emergency medicine residents of Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, SC, who travel the globe on medical missions. The program is under the direction of Thomas Cook, MD, who oversees one of more than 40 academic departments of emergency medicine that sponsors Global International Emergency Medicine Fellowships.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Making a Difference in Samoa

By Peyton Hassinger, MD

Josh Skaggs, Nathan Ramsey, and I traveled to Samoa with Mission of Hope Ministries for two weeks in July 2012. We were part of a team of about 35 people consisting of four doctors (one other pediatrician from Hawaii), four nurses, medical students, and many other support staff.

Mission of Hope is a South Carolina organization that has been taking groups to Samoa every year for the past 15 years to do medical work. (http://missionofhope-us.org.) The leader is a pastor originally from American Samoa who now lives in Columbia, SC. He recently became the chief of his village in American Samoa, and is now spending about half the year living in Samoa.

The medical mission involved five all-day clinics offered in five different villages in Western Samoa and American Samoa. Each village requested the mission’s presence and hosted our group by providing facilities, food, and gifts. They were very gracious and routinely provided us with Thanksgiving-style feasts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We usually worked from first thing in the morning until everyone in the village was seen, which was usually between 4 and 7 p.m. We saw about 200 patients on a typical day.

One of our clinics in American Samoa.

We provided a range of services from routine checkups and acute complaint visits to wound management and optometry evaluation, and we provided glasses, wheelchairs, and crutches. We performed minor procedures such as laceration repair and abscess incision and drainage. A prayer group met with all patients and addressed their spiritual needs.

The twin-engine airplane we took between islands in Samoa.

 Dr. Hassinger attended the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. He is originally from North Carolina. He is a member of the class of 2014 at the Palmetto Health emergency medicine program.