Dr. Debbie Eisenhut speaks at the Marion-Polk County Medical Society Winter Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Salem. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

After a busy day of seeing patients, members of the Marion-Polk County Medical Society had a chance to relax, socialize, and hear one of their own speak at the winter dinner at Willamette University.

The Bill Hughes Trio played while guests visited booths staffed by community partners at the event on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Terry Fletchall, CEO of Santiam Hospital and his wife Leeann Fletchall looked through historical albums. Heather Rollins and Jay Jamieson from George Fox University discussed their new six-semester physician assistant program, which will begin next January.

This was the last meeting led by Society President, Dr. Erin Hurley. She reminded guests that the society was the oldest west of the Mississippi and would celebrate its 150th anniversary this year.

Hurley then happily passed the gavel to new leader Dr. Doug Eliason. He took the audience on a journey through the founding of the society in 1870 (about the same time as the discovery of germs) to the CAT scan in 1975. He marveled at how medical professionals continue to gather, learn and pass on their legacy to the next generation.

The society also welcomed pediatric cardiologist James Bishara of Salem Health and Salem Pulmonary Associates’ Joseph Esfabodiad to the board.

Dr. Everett Mozell presented the President’s Achievement Award to surgeon Debbie Eisenhut. He extolled her virtues and her life of mission, passion, and sacrifice. A Salem native, she works for a faith-based international mission agency as a medical missionary and has traveled with Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons. She participates in various relief efforts around the world.

Eisenhut did post-flood relief work in Pakistan in the late 2000s where 22 million people were displaced. One-half of the people had malaria-like fevers and she ran a malnourished children’s unit.

She warned Liberians of the impending Ebola epidemic in 2014. She trained staff at Eternal Love Winning Africa, a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, on how to conduct Ebola-related quarantine procedures. Ultimately it was one of the only hospitals with the ability to handle the epidemic.

Later, Eisenhut traveled to Cameroon in 2015 but left three years later due to the dangerous political climate. She hopes to return soon to continue her international work. 

The Marion-Polk County Medical Society advocates for health care providers and patient rights in both the public and private sectors. Learn more at mpmedsociety.org.

Leeann Fletchall looks through historical albums at the Marion-Polk County Medical Society Winter Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Salem. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Dr. Joseph Allan visits with Heather Rollins and Jay Jamieson from George Fox at the Marion-Polk County Medical Society Winter Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Salem. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Dr. Doug Eliason accepts the president's gavel from Dr. Erin Hurley at the Marion-Polk County Medical Society Winter Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Salem. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Jeanine and Dr. Scott Stice visit with Courtney Bloedorn from Saalfeld Griggs PC at the Marion-Polk County Medical Society Winter Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Salem. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Dr. Everett Mozell introduces the recipient of the President's Achievement Award at the Marion-Polk County Medical Society Winter Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Salem. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Ken Anoe, Bill Hughes and David Evans play as the Bill Hughes Trio at the Marion-Polk County Medical Society Winter Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Salem. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

 Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional writing a regular column for Salem Reporter. Tell her about your upcoming event at [email protected] or follow her on Facebook.