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Samoa 2016 - Mary Kate Jordan and Dan Culy


Medical clinics in samoa with Mission of hope - 2016 

Mary Kate Jordan, MD and Daniel Culy, MD 

Mary Kate Jordan is a member of the Palmetto Health EM class of 2017 and a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.  Daniel Culy is a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Medicine and a member of the Palmetto Health EM Class of 2018.


Sponsoring Organization: Mission of Hope Ministries


Our trip to the South Pacific was a memorable medical opportunity! Although exotic and exciting, that kind of travel certainly requires a mentality of patience. Our voyage got off to a rocky start with early flight delays and rebooking confusion requiring our group to be split up even from the first leg. We reconvened in Honolulu, and the patience paid off.  While awaiting the second group of our dual spiritual and medical contingent, we spent two days in Honolulu and certainly made the most of our time there. We surfed the famous waves of Waikiki, attended services of multiple international churches that had provided prayer, financial and resource support to the team, and enjoyed several local restaurants

in Honolulu. As the full team gathered, we made final preparations for the second leg of our trip into Pago Pago, American Samoa. After only a few hours in country, early the following morning, we boarded a small 10 passenger plane. Dan and I had seats just inches behind the pilot for the turbulent 30 minute flight to the island of Upolu, Western Samoa.

In Upolu, we met the Australian contingent of our team and ferried to the neighboring island of Savai'i. Finally, after a week of travel backwards in time to Hawaii, then forward in time across the International Date Line to Samoa, we were able to do what we came to do- provide medical care.

We held a total of four clinics on Western Samoa, two each on Savai'i and Upolu. Our group included four physicians: Mary Kate and I along with a pediatrician from Kona, Hawaii and a local Samoan OB/GYN. We saw mostly bread and butter hypertension, diabetes and arthritis in the setting of inconsistent, if any, access to health care.  We referred a few to the local hospital for a variety of surgical and medical issues, but there were few in desperate need of emergent medical attention.  In general we gave a month of anti-hypertensives, oral diabetic meds, and anti-inflammatories and hoped they could get follow-up. Locals had only two options for health care: they could wait for a visiting physician to make it to their village or they could save the money to travel to the hospital for care. We certainly found it challenging, and at times, frustrating, to know follow-up was rarely an option. The group we traveled with, Mission of Hope, based is based in Cayce, SC has been doing this trip for over 20 years. They have been working on improving continuity of care that includes both telemedicine and partnerships with local Samoan organizations and providers. Those plans take time though, and patience is hard when you have patients in immediate need.

After a week in Western Samoa, we said goodbye to our Australian counterparts, and island hopped back to American Samoa for our final two missions. It was here that our main medical contribution would come, as the medical mission had teamed up with the local government health care center. This was a big change from the history of the mission, and would allow us to utilize their facility and scheduling resources to provide immediate follow up appointment scheduling at the clinic for our patients. 

On another exciting note, our mission leader Pastor Vaifanua Pele became the High Talking Chief ofhis village during this trip. Amidst the annual thank you gift ceremony his church put on for us, there was definitely an elevated air of accomplishment from the group members as we received canned tuna, fabrics, and cookies as a thank you for our service. Ultimately, being medical professionals allowed us to have an invaluable experience with Samoan culture, while at the same time helping those less fortunate than us. We worked hard to provide ideas to improve the medical aspect for future missions to Samoa, and are thankful for the gratitude and generosity directed towards us by the Samoan people and our fellow mission members. We also would like to thank everyone who graciously donated to the residency program to help make it possible for us to go on this trip.