Monday, January 14, 2019

A New Day at Kudjip

For the past 30 years, 2 names have been synonymous with Kudjip Nazarene Hospital – Dr. Jim Radcliffe and Dr. Bill McCoy.  No matter where in the country Kudjip was mentioned, one of those names would come next.  Even while driving around Kudjip village or to Mt. Hagen – folks in all the villages know Bill and Jim, and call their names and way as they drove through.  For 30+ and 20+ years, these two have served the people of Papua New Guinea with surgical and medical skills, delivering 1000s of babies, caring for 100s of thousands of patients, doing surgery on 10s of 1000s of patients, all the while sharing God’s love with those they have served (you can read more about their lives and influence in an older post -

They didn’t just serve, but through the years, they have taught many of the rest of us how to be missionary doctors. They have served as a bridge for all the new doctors who have come while they were here.  Bridging the past with the present, helping us to adjust to medicine in PNG, to bring our new skills and treatment ideas into a world of medicine that is still pretty primitive in some ways, while helping us adjust to life and work here.  For years, when we didn't know what to do with a patient, Bill or Jim was just a phone call away, but that has now changed.  Jim and Kathy Radcliffe retired the end of 2017, and now Bill and Marsha McCoy have retired from Kudjip just yesterday, leaving 12 physicians to keep the ministry going. 

So, today, we are starting a new day at Kudjip.  

The team today, isn’t the same as it was 12 years ago when I first got here and became doctor #6, and we won’t be the same team as we will be in 5 or 10 years.  But for now, we are a team of #12, and I am excited about what today and tomorrow will look like, with the different gifts and skills each of us has to contribute and the team we are together.

So instead of Jim and Bill, you might be hearing some of these names in the future.  Meet our current team (Bottom row L to R)

Susan Myers – Pediatrician (but does everything here), in her 18th year, has a heart for all our pediatric patients, and has recently, helped us to develop a relationship with Pediatric Cardiologists who are helping to get our Congenital Heart Kids the surgical interventions they need.

Nathan Mason – Family Practice doctor, just about to finish his first two years here after coming from an outpatient clinic in Oregon.  Despite a steep learning curve from what he was used to, he has jumped in to our work here, accepting the challenge of learning many new skills and has become an invaluable part of our team.  

Ben Radcliffe – General Surgeon, here for 5 years now, overlapped a little with his dad and then has taken on the role of Head Surgeon when Jim retired.  He has introduced Laparoscopic surgery to Kudjip and has worked to get us approved as a surgical training program for PNG surgical trainees.

Rebekah Lamb – General Practitioner from NZ, just got here in January to start a 1-2 year term of service with us.  She grew up as a Missionary Kid about 20 minutes away from Kudjip at CLTC, has come to work with us 2 times previously in her training, and now is here to stay for a bit.

Scott Dooley – Family Practice Doctor and Hospital Administrator, here for over 15 years, has a heart for discipleship, especially when it comes to our PNG coworkers in their leadership and development skills.

Mathew Woodley – Emergency Physician, here for 1+ years now, has quickly picked up the medical gaps he had from his training, working to help us improve our Emergency Services.  

(Top Row L to R)

Mark Crouch – Family Practice Doctor, here for 5 years, has a heart for Public Health and Medical Education.  Comes alongside our Primary Health Services, finding ways we can improve our current services, and helps to facilitate the time our medical trainees have with us.

Sheryl Uyeda – General Surgeon, just about to finish her first 2 years with us, and come back for more.  She also enjoys laparoscopic surgery and training surgeons, and is a great surgical partner for Ben, who can’t do all the cases on his own.

Erin Meier (that is me) - Family Practice Doctor, in my 12th year, currently serving as Medical Director, working to keep the clinical side of what we do going and seeking to find ways to help us keep getting better.

Bill McCoy (just retired) - the smartest doctor any of us has worked with.  

Imelda Mel – PNG Rural Physician, in her 8th year with us.  She completed her Rural Registry program with us for 6 years, and has continued to serve with us, now with her husband, Alex.  She was our first PNG trainee and has set the bar really high for all those coming behind her. 

Alex Mel – PNG physician, Imelda’s husband, just joined us in January, has a desire to be a surgeon and is hoping we can train him in that way starting in 2020. 

Katherine Radcliffe – Family Practice Doctor, here for 5 years, mother of 4, which most often keeps her away from the clinical side of medicine.  She coordinates all of our Medical Volunteers and when able finds time to be involved in clinical medicine, most recently helping with our cervical cancer screening program. 

Because of folks like Bill and Jim and Andy and Steph and Becky and many others who have come and served, the ministry here will continue.  We are thankful for those who have served before us and will do our best to keep us going as God allows in the days, months, years ahead for His Kingdom.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

McCoys Retiring

Bill and Marsha McCoy have served as Nazarene Missionaries since 1985 in Swaziland and then Papua New Guinea.  I have been blessed to have them as my next door neighbors and as my Family ever since I moved to Kudjip.

Bill has taught me most everything I know about being a doctor here.  I am a better doctor because of him and the wisdom he has imparted to me through the patients we have cared for together, and the thousands of questions I have asked of him over the years.

Marsha has taught me how to cook, how to eat almost anything because of her great cooking, and how to love well.  

Together they have helped me navigate the past 12 years of my missionary life and the successes, failures, trials and tears that have come with it.

They have shown what being faithful to God's call on your life looks like for 30 years and by watching them have encouraged me to do the same.  Although they are heading back to the USA, parts of them will remain.  They haven't just lived and served - they have invested in me and so many others here, that their presence will continue to be felt for years to come.  They have been Jesus to patients, to pastors, to staff, to PNGians and to missionaries and we have been changed because of it.  So, as I care for patients and serve those who God puts in front of me today, Bill and Marsha's presence will be felt because they have helped make me the missionary and doctor I am today.

Thank you for serving, and for loving and for being Jesus to me and so many.  You will be missed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Papua New Guinea.  Despite the weather being in the 80s, we enjoyed a great Christmas Celebration here in PNG - complete with Trees, Santa, Presents, Caroling and good food.

Thankful for the PNG family that I have here and the chance we have to share Jesus's love with the patients we have come to serve.  Thanks for your support and prayers for the continued work of God's  Kingdom here in PNG.

Monday, December 17, 2018


When I called out next, this young girl looked up at her family member and then looked at me at the end of the hall and started to walk to my room.  I could tell she was sick, but the closer she got the bigger the smile on her face became.  I started to like her before I even met her.

I asked her why they had come, and the girl started telling me about the swelling in her stomach.  I asked her some questions and then asked her to lay down so I could examine her. As soon as I put my hands on her stomach, I knew we were too late.  The huge mass I felt in her abdomen was going to be too big for us to do anything, it had been growing for months and months, but for various reasons, this was the first time they came to see us.  Despite knowing we were too late, I took her to the US room to do an ultrasound.  I found this huge mass, not attached to her kidney or liver or anything else.  I wondered if it might be lymphoma - I wondered only because we have a chance to treat it.

Not knowing if I was trying to treat myself, because in less than 5 minutes I grew to really care about this girl and didn't want her to die from this mass, I went to get Bill's opinion about if we should try chemo.  I started to describe her by saying she was "cute."  There is something about cute kids (really all kids), something that pulls at my heart, something that makes me try to do everything we possibly can for them - and she was one of these cute ones.  Unfortunately, Bill came to the same conclusion my hands made, but that my heart and mind didn't want to face.

Knowing there was no treatment or cure to offer her or her family, I took them back to my room to try and explain what was going on.  As I walked back into my room, and looked at them, I just started crying, because I had to tell this girl, who was 9, but talked and acted so much older, and had this amazing smile - that she didn't have long for this earth.  I cried, she cried and yet she seemed to understand the words I was able to form.  We prayed and I hugged her, knowing that would be the last time I saw her on this side of eternity.

Next didn't come easily after my time with Susan.  Pray for her and her family during this difficult Holiday time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Femur Fractures

We recently had 2 little kiddos fall and break their femurs.  Initially we had one kid in our crib hanging out in traction and when the 2nd kid came in just a few days later, we just adjusted the setup so both kids could stay there.  Their moms became quick friends and stayed in the nearby beds, as their kids hung in traction while their legs healed.  Thankfully, both kids did well and went home after about a month in the hospital with us.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Trip to Kumul

Eastern Crested Berrypecker
Belford's Melidectes
Male Ribbon Tail Australia
Brehm's Tiger Parrot
Feeding Table

Regent Whistler
Stella's Lorikeet

I have enjoyed learning about birdwatching from Bill and Marsha.  I knew next to nothing about birds when I came and now know considerably more and enjoy the opportunity to find new birds.  This weekend, I went to Kumul Lodge with the McCoys, one last trip to see the birds before they retire.  Kumul Lodge has a great setup with a feeding table where many of the birds come and feed on the fruit that the staff put out.  There are also many different trees around in the rainforest allowing opportunities to see birds that don't visit the feeders.

I saw a few new birds this time - including the Crested Satinbird (orange guy), and the Regent's Whistler.  Along with some old faithful's - the Sicklebill, the Astrapias, the Tiger Parrot, the Honeyeaters and more.   We enjoyed an adventurous hike and the time together.  I will miss these adventures with the McCoys come January, but thankful for all those we have shared together.
Crested Satinbird

Friday, December 7, 2018

Melissa's Miracle

I met Melissa on Medical Ward.  She had fluid in her lungs, around her heart and in her abdomen.  We had draining one of those areas one day, and the next day, another part of her body needed drained.  Despite, continued taps, the fluid kept coming back.  She had been on TB treatment (the most common cause of the fluid), but it continued to come.  We decided to try chemotherapy for Lymphoma treatment, as the fluid was often pretty bloody suggesting cancer – but the fluid kept coming.  She had pain because of the fluid, she was short of breath because of the fluid and no matter how much we took off – it kept coming back.

After taking care of her for 2 weeks (she had been in the hospital for over a month at this point), and after doing all I thought we could, I talked to her and her husband about going home.  I pretty much told her, we have tried everything we can, we don’t have anything else to try, and so instead of sitting here dying of fluid overload, why don’t you go home to be with your family.  After a few days, they asked to go home, and so despite the fluid throughout her body, I let her go, fully expecting that would be the last time I saw her.

Instead about 2 weeks later she was back – not better, but no worse.  2 weeks after that, I walked into Bill’s room to ask a question and found a women and her husband sitting there who looked familiar and yet I couldn’t quite remember who she was, Bill told me it was Melissa and I couldn’t believe it. She looked great, she didn’t look like the Melissa from the hospital.

Over the next month, we saw her a few more times and each time she was better and better – despite us doing nothing to help her.  I just saw her this week and could only find a small amount of fluid near her heart.  She had no complaints, she said she felt great and she looked great, a huge smile on her face.  As we talked, I couldn’t help but by so happy for her and for the miracle that God worked in her life.  Melissa and her husband are Christians, we prayed many times together in the hospital, and God heard those prayers and many others and He cured her.  I know it was nothing we did, because everything we did made no difference, it was only when she left and we quit trying that she got better.  She is looking forward to Christmas remember the gift she has been given.