Medical mission trips are a part of family tradition for the Cusick family. Dr. Doug Cusick, a plastic surgeon with Shawnee Mission Health, has been to 14 countries on 40 mission trips, where his work includes correcting cleft lips and palates in children and conducting burn reconstructive surgery. His wife, Barbara, often travels with him. When their kids started middle school years ago, they began coming along on the trips as well.

“We’d take them one at a time,” said Barbara Cusick, board director of The Foundation for Shawnee Mission Medical Center and member of the Board of Trustees for SMH. “We had them keep a bound journal that they presented to their teachers at the end of the trip.”

Now the Cusicks are bringing that tradition to the SMH family as well. Barbara Cusick presented a $1 million gift to establish the Dr. J. Douglas Cusick Medical Missions Endowment Fund at SMH. The fund will be used to launch mission trips through SMH, covering the cost of supplies, equipment and some of the travel expenses for participants.

Dr. Cusick said the fund will support SMH’s mission in extending the health ministry of Christ. “We wanted to give Shawnee Mission Health the mechanism and means to do mission trips within its own system,” he said. “We also hope to be a model for others to give and set up endowments as well.”

SMH has a long tradition of supporting medical mission trips but, until now, wasn’t able to include a plan to go back to the same place. This fund will provide a stream of revenue for medical missions on an ongoing basis.

“If our team can come back to the area and follow up with people, it will make a big difference in their long-term health,” said Lou Gehring, executive director for The Foundation for SMMC.

The next year will be spent on planning for future trips as well as allowing the endowment to build. One possibility being explored is a partnership with Centura Health in Denver for medical missions in Peru. A committee is being formed to define the focus of these trips and determine where to establish a foothold.

“It needs to be a sustainable project, not just one time here and one time there,” said Barbara. “We want to not only look at immediate health needs, but public healthcare issues as well. That includes clean water, hygiene and diet.”

The Cusicks hope that this will inspire more medical personnel to take on mission work, whether they work at SMH or elsewhere.

“My parents have chosen to follow their calling by sharing their skill set and developing lasting relationships in parts of the world with the greatest health disparities,” said the Cusick’s son, Brandon, a clinical research assistant at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Through their generosity with this endowment, their hope is not only to serve, but also to build a lasting legacy and inspire others, just like you and me, to take action and make progress toward solving some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

For more information about how you can contribute to the Dr. J. Douglas Cusick Medical Mission Endowment or to get involved, please contact The Foundation at 913.676.2055, or visit

This article was also published in the June 2015 print edition of OUTLOOK. The author, Ann Muder, writes for Shawnee Mission Health.