This month’s Congregational Letter is written by Matt Alexander. In addition to being a St. Andrew’s member, Matt is the Executive Director of Palmetto Medical Initiative. Over the past 6 years PMI has accomplished amazing work in both East Africa and Central America and I am grateful for the opportunities that St. Andrew’s has had to partner with PMI in this work. My hope is that as you learn more about PMI you will be moved to join them in their mission. You can find out more about PMI by clicking through to their website In the family, +Steve
It was late 2008 and two St. Andrew’s members, Dr. Edward O’Bryan and Matt Alexander, had just finished surfing at Folly Beach. Their conversation over lunch began questioning how to live out faith through service and action (1 John 3:18). The conversation continued to include healthcare and how to meet health needs of people living in the world’s poorest nations. But they wanted more than a simple, short-term relief approach.
As a result of this conversation and through the support of St. Andrew’s Church, 24 volunteers from the lowcountry traveled to Masindi, Uganda to deliver medical care through makeshift clinic sites in churches, schools, and abandoned buildings in March 2009. Through that trip, the desperate need for basic healthcare was confirmed and Palmetto Medical Initiative (PMI) was born with the mission to provide quality, affordable healthcare to people in need. The next step was to begin planning for what would become the organization’s pilot project, the Masindi Kitara Medical Centre (MKMC).
Today, much has changed but the mission remains the same. Rather than creating dependency on American funds or talent, PMI empowers communities to bring about their own improvements in health and quality of life. To put it simply, PMI:
1. Offers a full-scope of medical services through facility-based projects
2. Those services are delivered by trained nationals
3. Care is provided at a price-point affordable to the majority of the population
4. Patient fees offset the operating costs of the health center
PMI’s approach has produced powerful results. The organization opened the first-phase of the MKMC in January of 2011 and within 13 months it became 100% financially self-sustaining. Today, that project has now grown into a regional referral hospital, staffed by more than 50 full-time Ugandan medical and administrative staff, who provide care to approximately 1500 patients per month. And, most importantly, they are covering all of their costs in doing so.
To date, PMI has provided medical care to more than 100,000 patients through MKMC and additional projects in Uganda, Nicaragua and Burundi. To support the local projects and staff, the organization has also sent nearly 1200 US medical volunteers to participate in training and delivery of care. PMI has also been blessed to develop partnerships across different sectors and geographical areas as people become aware of the sustainable impact being achieved.
As excited as we are about all that God has done, we’re even more excited about what He has in store. Our goal over the next five years is to add to our existing projects and produce 20 health centers serving communities in East Africa and Central America by the year 2020. Whether through prayer, financial support or joining us on a trip, we would love to have you join us on that journey.