Medical Mission Adventures
See what we've been up to!!!!
A lot has happened since our last newsletter!
An update from our president...
Since the first days of Medical Mission Adventure's (MMA) weekend team ventures to the barrios of Tijuana and beautiful Baja to hold clinics, the adventure has turned a corner onto a new avenue of helping the poor and/or under-served in greater Los Angeles, but at the same time, keeping our adventurous spirit alive by going to foreign countries!
To read the rest of Louie's message, scroll to the bottom of this newsletter and read the continuation.
Photos from the JUNE 10, 2017 CLINIC at THE CHURCH ON THE WAY SANTA CLARITA, CA
Pain-lined faces turned to smiles!
The Hub of Activity
The Control "Tower"
Larry and Louie!
The City of Los Angeles formally congratulates these MMA volunteers!
Councilmember 7th District
Lots of changes within MMA.
Farewell and thank you, Melony and Paul Vergos!
Truly no words would adequately express our gratitude toward Paul and Melony for all they have done for Medical Mission Adventures and for us personally!
Melony Vergos has served as Vice President of Medical Mission Adventures for two years. She oversaw the operations of the clinics, volunteer credentialing and privileging, training, quality control, risk management, and drug distribution. She, essentially, provided the structure that kept everything in place. We are grateful for all she has accomplished.
Paul Vergos gave his time, skills and donations in the MMA maintenance operations department, which included retrofitting the dental trailer, installing air-conditioning in the pharmacy for temperature control, maintaining the vehicles, and a slew of other things!
Melony, and her husband, Paul, have a heart to serve the under-served and share the love of the Father with the whole world through evangelism, discipleship, and taking care of the poor and the needy. Though Melony is resigning from administration/management responsibility, she and Paul plan to stay connected to MMA, believing in our purpose.
We will miss you Melony and Paul!
Farewell and thank you, Charles Funaro!
Chuck has served as our Legal Director and on the Board of Directors for Medical Mission Adventures for over ten years, since our very beginning! He leaves us to travel internationally with his new bride Becky. We congratulate you both! Chuck plans to stay connected to us and we are glad of that as he is our dear friend!
We welcome Sharyn Alcaraz to our Board of Directors!
Sharyn will serve as as our Legal Adviser on the Board of Directors for MMA. She is an accomplished General Counsel, receiving a B.A. in Quantitative Economics & Decision Sciences at UCSD, and a
Juris Doctor degree from Santa Clara University School of Law.
We welcome Margie Russomanno to our staff!
Margie is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, worship leader and guest speaker in both sacred and secular arenas. Her recent CD release, "All I Need" has been in the #1 position on Reverbnation's Christian/Gospel Chart for six months and in the top ten for years. She has over a million YouTube views!
Margie is currently the Director of Music Ministries and the Worship Leader at New Life Church of the Nazarene in Porter Ranch. Margie was a worship leader at The Church On The Way for 15 years. She has been the newscaster/host for Foursquare International Headquarters’ podcast “The Foursquare Leader Minute”.
MMAdventures Clinics in 2017
Red squares: future clinics
Check our calendar for the next clinic!
Continuation of an update from our president
MMA had it’s beginnings in Uganda! I was part of a medical team from The Church On The Way (TCOTW) in Van Nuys, and acted as the pharmacist in Uganda. We went to five different villages, providing free medical care. I enjoyed it so much that when I came back to work at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, in Burbank, and told my co-workers about it, they wanted to do the same thing! So I organized a shorter trip to Tijuana and left applications for people to fill out, while I went on a vacation with my wife. When I returned, 45 applications were waiting! On the following trip, I had about 75 applications and had to rent a Greyhound bus to take them all to Baja.
It was overwhelming to comprehend the generosity of these busy people. Every three months, I took a team of doctors, nurses, dentists, dental assistants, pharmacists and physical therapists and non-clinical volunteers in three-four rented vans to Baja, near the Tijuana area, to train them for medical missions. There are 600 villages in Tijuana so you could literally spend your whole life there doing clinics.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I went to Waveland, Mississippi (again with TCOTW), where the eye of the storm was, running four medical clinics out of four cities. While traveling back and forth between the four cities, in a van, getting supplies from hospitals and from the government in other locations for the clinics, I had the vision of having one big bus with everything in it.. medicines, totally independent of power, having its own generator, its own hospital beds, its own optical and full pharmacy. Out of that vision, we retrofitted the largest school bus you can find and gutted it out. Bob Richards, a set designer for the Star Trek TV series, designed the interior of the bus with everything we wanted in it. We began with that one bus.
I met Dr. Val Finnell, MD, MPH, a USAF Colonel, who was in charge of the hospital for military officers near the Los Angeles International Airport, at the Fuller Theological Seminary at a yearly seminar for mobile clinics. He was very instrumental in setting up the policies and procedures, and guiding us through the certification of the mobile medical unit.
I didn’t have a dime when I started this! and the cost of the bus alone was $35,000. We converted a full-size bus into a three-station medical clinic, which provides medical, dental, optical and pharmacy. As we went through the city inspection, the parking, the legality of the bus, having emergency exits, temperature control, hot water control, everything required by the State of California for the bus to operate legally, it included being inspected by the Sheriff’s Department to make sure it qualified. That entire process took three years.
We currently have one bus, one toy hauler, one van and a truck. As I said, we started without a dime. Foursquare International gave us $35,000 for the bus, the Kellogg Foundation gave us $15,000 for additional things for the bus, for a total of $50,000. The TOUCH Coalition from South Bay donated $17,000 for the toy hauler to be retrofitted into a dental trailer, which was done by Paul Vergos. The optical van was donated by Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, and retrofitted to see optical patients. The Texas A & M University has recently offered to build a second dental trailer out of a storage container for us. We are in negotiations of the design and furbishment of dental chairs and equipment.
I went to Sri Lanka with TCOTW and we saw 11,000 patients in eight days after the tsunami had devastated the country. I went to Beirut Lebanon to help after the war with Israel, and to Cuba taking medicine to them. It was then that I officially started Medical Mission Adventures by applying for a 501 C3 charitable donation, so we can give tax receipts for donations.
Paradoxically, as I traveled around the world, I began to see the need in America. I prayed and God changed my priorities to helping our neighbors nearby. Start at Jerusalem, then go to the uttermost parts of the earth.
In 1996, we established our 501(c)(3). Then the process of becoming a primary health clinic by the state of California took four years. We are treated like any other hospital, which is why we have our malpractice insurance, liability insurance, entity insurance and policy and procedures and we follow the codes of Title 22 by the State of California.
We do approximately three clinics per month, seeing anywhere from 50 to 100 patients, providing free medical, dental, optical, pharmaceutical and lab work. We give them glasses for free, and their medicines are free.
There are 250,000 homeless people in LA County alone. The health care need is great not only for the homeless, but because of the high rents people have to pay to live in their apartments, they can’t afford insurance or medicines. Even our own American citizens can’t afford their medicines, so they rely on us for their prescriptions on a monthly basis.
We become their primary health clinic. We’ve saved many lives by doing EKGs. An EKG discovered that a lady had a rapid afib. We called an ambulance and they took her right to the emergency room. The next time she came back, she said that we saved her life. Her case is multiplied many times over. Last week we found a person with a high blood sugar of 600. The meter only goes to 1000 so this patient was in very, very bad shape. We find a lot of patients with high blood pressure, cholesterol, anemic, low hemoglobin and children who need glasses.
We provide free glasses for the children because medical gives them one pair every two years. If they break their glasses in the playground, and can't afford to replace them, they are very happy when they get a new pair from MMA. Medicare does not provide dentistry or optometry for adults. Medical provides dental for children. Because there is no provision, dental is the biggest need at our clinics. The second highest need is optical, then medicine and pharmacy.
In the medicine department, pharmacy is the most important because they can’t afford their medicines. If you have a chronic condition like high blood pressure or blood sugar, that means you need a prescription every month; hence, we have people who have been following us from clinic to clinic every month for years to get their refills. If they do have dental insurance, they can have certain procedures done, but they still have to make their co-payments.
As we move along and the years have gone by, we have become busier and busier. We need many volunteers. We keep getting two or three requests from each location. We get so many requests that we have to turn them down. We need doctors, dentists, dental assistants, optometrists, nurses, pharmacists, drivers, carpenters, and workers. There is always a need because we keep growing.
In September, we will begin to do our schedule for 2018. I had the opportunity of meeting with the Ambassador, the Mayor and the President of Costa Rica (Nestor Mattis Williams and Luis Guillermo Solis pictured with me on the background of this newsletter) and will be returning there in July to be talk to them about long term goals in Costa Rica. We will be taking a team to Costa Rica in the summer of 2018. If you would like to go with us, let us know. I will be taking a pre-trip this summer to make preparation for the medical trip next year. It’s all very exciting!
If you are interested and would like to serve in any of these capacities one Saturday a month, or even one Saturday a year, please click on the link and fill out an application. We would LOVE to have you!
Click on the "Press Here" button below to fill out an application or to contribute financially to MMA!