This is a small but thorough and dedicated organization which helps Catholic doctors prepare to work overseas. They offer weekends of discernment and education, placement information, and support. They stay well-informed about the placements and the doctors serving overseas and are ready to help in any way possible. The staff is enthusiastic, realistic, and manages the organization with integrity.
It's nice to see members of a non-profits board of directors write to express support for their organization. Doctors helping others is a very noble cause, and the work that they do is unquestionably compassionate.
Who could ever think that a doctor, nurse or other health care professional offering care and comfort would be considered objectionable.
This organization unfortunately has problems that lie outside of the realm of its physician volunteers.
A colleague of mine asked me to check on this organization as he thought he may have erred in drawing what he felt was a factual observation about this organization.
According to the organizations website and tax returns filed and available through guidestar, it does indeed appear that board members are related to fellow board members.
It also appears that of the VERY FEW employees that are paid by this organization, two of the three are related as Mother and Daughter.
In an earlier post when this topic, as well as political and religious bias, that appears to exist within the management of this organization, a general denial was made about at least some of these facts that are now proven to be true.
From what I can see, this speaks to an earlier review that stated this organization felt closed, politically and religiously biased, (as far as Catholic liberal or conservative teaching), and that its board is made up of related entities. It was even more alarming to see that of the three or four PAID employees that make up this organization, two of them are related.
Not for profit organizations are, of course, free to conduct their own business as they wish. That is what appears to go on here.
Nobody is saying that these doctors and board members aren't good people and trying to do what they can to alleviate suffering in the world. What I am saying is that management should lead this organization to prevent the VERY cloudy way of managing it that seems to be taking place.
Just be honest and hopefully open to some friendly advise.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to donate to this organization until it has fixed some of the problems internally, within management, and of course disavows bias.
I did enjoy reading about the doctors who are board members and serve, as well as the journalist and priest who are so passionate about it. If this organization can fix these problems I think it will be smooth sailing for them ahead.
I have volunteered with ten different nonprofit groups over the last ten years in about fifteen countries primarily providing pediatric health care in third world countries. Some of these groups were religious based and many Catholic organizations.
My experiences with Mission Doctors Association have all been very positive. From first hearing about them on Catholic Radio, to endless communications with the staff, to a weekend retreat in LA, to finally serving in Cameroon, I have found the mission and people involved to be honest, open-minded, and very awe inspiring.
The weekend retreat is a good way to find if this group is a good fit for you and you for them. Here I was able to have the spiritual guidance of a religious brother over the weekend, worship at the LMU chapel together (a truly moving experience), meet some incredible dedicated medical and lay people who have volunteered, and learn about medical missions in general. I was able to ask all my questions and must admit my goal was to not only provide care in a Catholic based environment but provide care to all religions and races. Interestingly enough, one of the speakers at the weekend retreat was a Jewish physician who ran a cliic in South America but we all had the same goals. At the same time, during the weekend I was interviewed by several physicians who had been missionaries where they could see if I would be a good fit for representing the group and making it through a serving in a third world environment while representing the Catholic physician.
My six week Cameroon experience was excellent. The sisters who run the hospital run a type ship as expected but to my surprise the hospital grounds had employees of all faiths, and there were even Islam prayer areas set aside for patients. Mass was offered every day.
In Cameroon, I worked along side two other Mission Doctors. They were saintly Family practitioner volunteer doctors who were on their sixth year serving the poor around the world. In addition there were three African physicians. During my time there I helped train two Belgian medical students, and was sent to a local Baptist Medical Center an hour away to give Grand Rounds and train some of their housestaff physicians.
I would love to do a longterm mission with Mission Doctors but family circumstances limits me to only month long ventures. The ability to continue to do short term missions with them is a real plus for the organization. I recommend them to anyone.
I have had the opportunity to interview Mission Doctors in three very unique and challenging countries; Peru, Cameroon, and Uganda. As a journalist, sitting down to interview the doctors that chose to serve with Mission Doctors, is both refreshing and eye-opening. It doesn't matter what country I am in, or who the doctor is I am interviewing, they all have one job, patient care. Mission Doctors answer a higher calling to take care of the sick, save lives, and leave the world better than they found it. As a local television news reporter my job is to report the truth, cover the world through the eyes of others, and give the viewers the purest most honest insight into what I see through my camera lens. Words are extremely important, but without the compassion and caring of these doctors, I would have a blank page. I've learned through my travels volunteering with Mission Doctors that there really aren't enough words to described the work they do. Watching the doctors work, in sometimes extreme conditions, in the most rural parts of the globe, has not only inspired me to be a better person; but a better journalist. In Uganda, Dr. Lou Coda and his daughter Dr. Clare Coda worked from sun up to sun down to try and save the lives of two premature babies born on May 24th. The father daughter team worked side by side in a cramped, hot nursery doing everything they could to save the set of twins, a boy and a girl. In Cameroon, I listened in amazement as Dr. Jim Hake recited, almost by memory, the patient care he gave to a sick woman he treated nearly a decade ago. And, in Peru I watched as husband and wife doctor team Brian Medernach and Toni Lullo took turns running to the hospital in the middle of the night to save a life that was just brought in nearly eight hours away by canoe. Mission Doctors does so much, that most of us never see, They are dedicated to their mission and the non-profit is growing and could use all the help they can get. I couldn't imagine a better way, as a journalist, to donate my time to raise more awareness about this Catholic non-profit that has impacted my life in a way I could’ve never imagined. Cheers, keep up the good work! Mike Paluska
Attached is a report from the Centro de Salud in Santa Clotilde, Peru
"We at St Francis Hospital Mutolere Uganda are grateful to Mission Doctors Association for the partnership we share. The doctors who come from MDA provide outstanding care to all our patients. They are faithful Catholics and we see that they love God and all his children. We hope to continue our relationship with them for many years."
The doctors who we know that have come here from MDA are the, Pediatrician Dr. Lous Coda ( comes with his wife Martha and children), surgeon Roy Elfrink (came with his doctor wife and their 4 children back in 2009), the OBGYN who just left Ann Marie, the pediatrician Patricia who is here now working with Lou, Dr. Lou, who already has a Ugandan work permit, has come to work as a volunteer pediatrician for four times now! Our local Staff members ( nurses and doctors) enjoy working with MDA doctors. And people from Kisoro -Uganda will always want to know when Dr. Coda is coming back! No wonder, when he is here, he has no time to even eat! – Pontius Mayunga, Hospital Administrator.
I have served multiple times with Mission Doctors Association, both long-term and short-term since 1990, our most recent placement being January through June 2017. My family and I have served in Papua New Guinea, Cameroon, and Uganda. MDA, from the start, has provided us with information and preparation for each site. Multiple placements have been available and MDA helps in suggesting where my abilities and skills best match a given community's needs. During the times we have been overseas we continue to receive support from MDA.
While we have never needed it, we have always known that MDA would give us intense support and help if we encountered an emergency situation while overseas.
My wife and I have participated in a number of the orientation/information retreats; they have been well-organized and provide prospective volunteers with realistic and comprehensive information to help them discern if this type of work is appropriate for them. One of the aspects that we appreciate the most is the emphasis placed on the spiritual dimension of the mission experience.
I would strongly encourage doctors who feel they are being called to this kind of work to contact MDA and explore what they have to offer.
My wife, Sheila, and I have been working with Mission Doctors Association (MDA) since 1998, first (and still) as donors, then with a medical mission trip for three year to Zimbabwe after a four-month training program, on four subsequent short-term medical mission trips to Cameroon, and currently as a member of the Board of Directors.
I continue to be drawn to this organization because of it's heart for service to patients who often have the greatest medical needs yet the least access to medical care. MDA serves only at hospitals and clinics in resource-limited countries where physicians are requested by Catholic Bishops and Religious Orders. MDA trains and prepares physicians and their families who are called to medical mission work as an expression of their faith. This mission of MDA is made possible through the efforts of the MDA Auxiliary and the support of donors who feel called to be partners in this work.
The highlight of my medical career was working alongside local physicians in Africa, both to provide medical care and training but also to learn from exceptional clinicians about ways of providing medical care under austere conditions. My hope and prayer in continuing to work on the Board of Directors of MDA is that it's Mission of Healing and Partnership of Hope for the last 58 years will continue to be a blessing to the patients it serves, the mission hospitals it supports, the donors who participate in this work, the physicians and their families who express their faith through medical mission work, and all those who keep MDA in their prayers.
I have been associated with Mission Doctors Association for 20 years, serving alongside my late wife (Kathryn J. Bolton, MD) in Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda and Guatemala. Before our marriage, Kate served in Papua New Guinea and I had the privilege of visiting her there. MDA sends Catholic doctors and their spouses to locations where they serve at the invitation of the local bishop. I've personally seen the good that the orginization does at a wide range of locations. MDA physicians provide medical care to the local community and education in current techniques to local physicians. In several cases we've provided major upgrades to local medical facilities, including the first Emergency Room at one site, and a world-class eye clinic at another. I am extremely proud to be affiliated with this organization, and to serve on its board of directors.
After having interviewed the CEO of this organization to serve, I learned that the Mission Doctors association is more of a "private club" of physicians and donors. The organization, while performing worthwhile services, just doesn't function as a typical not for profit medical services charity.
Politics is a part of this organization. While it is not outwardly stated, it appeared that my conservative views were not looked upon kindly by their CEO. This was the beginning of my review of the organization, its practices, management, etc. My feeling is that if you do not mirror the political views of the organizations leadership, your service to the Mission Doctors may not be well received.
As mentioned earlier in this review, the management and board of directors is compromised of related family members (whether paid or unpaid). While I must presume that all of those involved in this organization do have the best interests of it at heart, it is not healthy to have related spouses, sons/daughters, etc. serving alongside and possibly reporting to each other. It doesn't allow for a practical review of the organization and its mission, etc.
As a son of a non-profit CEO I was always taught as a leader in Christ, you are called to sacrifice, not serve your own best interests . (that seems to possibly be the case here) My Father rested on his faith, meeting for prayer every morning, and God did not fail to provide the needed staff, as well as the constituents of the organization around the world.
I hope this organization has the opportunity to gain perspective through a non-related board of directors and staff. I also hope that political and religiously political views of management can be put in proper perspective. It would seem that keeping an open mind politically and religiously might be more helpful and productive. This organization seems to have some good roots, but at this time at least for me, I am standing back and refraining from serving or donating until they can grow past this phase in their existence.
Dear nmksti, We are sorry to hear that you had a negative experience interviewing with a member of our organization. We would welcome the opportunity to address your concerns, and would be happy to put you in direct contact with our Board President. Although you acknowledge that nothing was stated outwardly, if you have the impression that conservative views are unwelcome we would be grateful for the opportunity to better understand your experience. Conservative Catholic doctors serve with MDA today in Africa and Latin America. Additionally, your comments about family members in leadership is confusing and to clarify – no member of our staff is related to the President or any member of the Board of Directors. Please contact us at your earliest convenience so that we can offer clarification on your concerns. Email email@example.com or phone 213-368-1872