Shawnee Mission Health has partnered with Global Health Initiatives to provide international medical mission trip opportunities for the SMH family to participate in. Three SMH nurses, Helina Kebede, Maria Romero and Latoyea Taylor, traveled to Iquitos, Peru this past summer. The surgical nurses participated in a medical mission trip to the Amazon where they performed general surgeries and assisted with various other responsibilities to improve the lives of the Peruvian people.

Healthcare concerns abound in Peru—there is a plethora of people, yet a lack of simple supplies. Basic healthcare needs are not met due to the isolated region, poverty and too few volunteers. GHI and SMH provided medical supplies as well as talented individuals who were willing to donate their time to better the lives of the people of Iquitos.

This medical mission was Romero’s second trip with SMH. On her first medical mission, Romero, who has worked at SMH for 23 years, traveled to Puebla, Mexico and assisted with general surgery.

“The hospital was looking for volunteers to help,” said Romero. “I was able to go and I thought that it would be good for me to do something for the hospital that has done so much for me.”

For Kebede and Taylor, Peru was their first medical mission trip. “It is a life-changing experience getting to help people who are disadvantaged,” said Taylor.

Kebede hopes that this experience will be the first of many more mission trips to come. “We are to show the love of Christ in what we do,” she said. “This is not always easy but with His help we can. This trip allowed us to spread the message of love and kindness.”

In the future, SMH plans to sponsor more medical mission trips for associates, thanks to a $1 million grant from the Cusick family. The grant was established to create the Dr. J. Douglas Cusick Medical Missions Endowment Fund. This endowment will be used to launch mission trips through SMH, covering the cost of supplies, equipment and some of the travel expenses for associates.

“Medical mission trips give Shawnee Mission Health associates the opportunity of Extending the Healing Mission of Christ beyond our walls and around the world,” said Mark Stoddart, administrative director of Spiritual Wellness. “Through partnerships with organizations like GHI and now with the grant from Dr. Cusick, we look forward to sharing the time and talents of our doctors and nurses with those in need, no matter how far away.”

If you would like to apply for the next medical mission trip contact Mark Stoddart.

Contribute to the Dr. J. Douglas Cusick Medical Mission Endowment.

Analisa Bregant is an intern for Shawnee Mission Health.