U-M has a global impact with international relief work and medical school partnerships
When University of Michigan physician assistant Susan Klimist packs for trips to Thailand, her checklist includes antibiotics, Ace bandages, eye drops, fleece jackets and toothbrushes. Once she even took a microscope.
Klimist, a PA in the Emergency Department, has made at least five relief missions over the years to nations bordering Myanmar, also known as Burma, to assist refugees fleeing military rulers. Future missions will be crucial as the country recovers from natural disaster.
“I could feel my heart break when I heard the news,” Klimist said of the cyclone that struck May 3. “My next trip is planned for November, but because of this I feel like it should be sooner.”
Klimist has been a physician assistant for 23 years—seven with U-M. She’s worked as long as three weeks in a small Thailand hospital where about 30 babies are born each month and a small operating room is put to use for procedures such as hernia repair.
“The work we do is tremendously appreciated,” says Klimist, who pays for the trips herself so resources go to those in need.
Klimist’s visits to India and Thailand have been part of her work as a member of Burma Relief Center–USA, a non-profit humanitarian aid group. Many U-M faculty and medical students go overseas to provide care, conduct research, train and educate through various programs such as Global REACH, a U-M Medical School initiative to benefit patients worldwide.
U-M is also making an impact on medical care worldwide with initiatives like the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University partnership to form a medical school in Shanghai. Over the years, Klimist has seen her humanitarian work make a difference.“
A library in Fang is stocked almost entirely with U-M texts. Most are on primary care, but there are some surgery and pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology (textbooks),” she said.
Through fund-raising, her group has paid medical expenses for a land mine victim, provided orphans with food, provided warm clothing and carried out other humanitarian projects.
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