Local nonprofit to build more hospitals in world’s poorest regions

  • Sunday, December 15, 2013

Palmetto Medical Initiative (PMI) announced its $1.5 million Revolutionizing Global Health campaign to build five medical centers in Central America and East Africa by 2015. Nearly $1.2 million has already been pledged from lead donors Darla Moore, Seacoast Church, and others. PMI is counting on the generosity of community individuals and corporations to raise the balance—$300,000—before Dec. 31, 2013.

“I invite our community to join me and support PMI’s campaign,” said Darla Moore, financier and philanthropist. “On a mission trip with PMI in 2009, I saw firsthand the desperate health care needs of so many people. PMI has proven its ability to provide the same quality health care we value in the U.S.”

PMI opened its first hospital in Masindi, Uganda, in 2011. While PMI continues medical mission trips, the hospital achieved the goal of self-sustainability within 13 months of opening. Today it serves more than 1,300 patients each month and is staffed by 57 native Ugandans. Since opening, the clinic in Masindi has served more than 50,000 patients. The average doctor visit costs patients $2; more than 98% of all patients cover the complete cost of their care.

A second hospital following the same model of self-sustainability opens in El Viejo, Nicaragua, in January 2014. Prior to opening the permanent site, PMI’s short-term volunteers have already established a reputation in the community by providing care to 4,500 patients. Those volunteers invest in local staff through hands-on training and education, provide care in outlying areas within a defined catchment area for the permanent site, refer patients back to the center, and deliver specialized care beyond what is available in the country.

The short-term volunteers further the efforts of the long-term change PMI is striving to achieve by supporting local efforts. Through a partnership with medical schools around the country, including the Medical University of South Carolina, PMI has sent 849 medical and business volunteers on 10-day medical missions to help treat patients and provide continuing medical education to native staff.

Revolutionizing Global Health provides seed funding for the hospitals’ construction; once campaign goals are met, construction on the remaining hospitals will begin. The regions selected by PMI lack basic quality health care and they are some of the poorest in the world with extremely high mortality rates, rampant disease, and low life expectancy rates.

On Nov. 7, PMI announced its third project will be located in Burundi. Burundi is a region with one of the highest birthrates and maternal mortality rates, as well as a very high risk for infectious disease.

Seacoast Church has been doing medical mission trips for about a decade. Senior Pastor Greg Surratt explains why supporting and partnering with PMI is a good fit, noting, “There is an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.’ Partnering with Palmetto Medical Initiative has allowed us to continue taking short-term trips, while also developing a long-term strategy to address medical needs in some of the poorest countries around the world. We are not only offering a solution for today, but for generations to come.”

Dr. Ed O’Bryan, a physician at MUSC, and Matt Alexander, an entrepreneur and nonprofit executive, founded PMI in 2009. They saw firsthand that medical missions alone were a temporary fix; they created PMI as a permanent health care solution for impoverished regions.

“An investment in PMI means providing more than just temporary relief to people facing critical health needs around the world,” Alexander said. “It means empowering people with hope through long-term improvements in health and quality of life. The funds raised through this campaign will allow PMI to create sustainable change in our host communities and provide our financial partners with return on investment that lasts for generations.”

Revolutionizing Global Health is PMI’s first capital campaign. The Winkler Group, a national fundraising firm and South Carolina’s largest, is serving as campaign consultant. To learn more about how PMI is transforming health care worldwide and to support quality health care for those who need it most, visit www.palmettomedical.org.

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