Kenya. Tanzania. Korea. Iraq. California.
These two doctors have traveled the world, connected by their love for each other and a passion for serving a global community of those in need. But it’s the power of family that brought them to Spartanburg.
Meet OB/GYN Erin Dainty, MD, and orthopaedic trauma surgeon Kurt Yusi, MD, the latest physicians to join Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.
Big world, small college
Erin Dainty had already lived overseas for 10 years when she met Kurt Yusi at Davidson College in North Carolina.
She was born in Tennessee but moved with her parents at the age of 8 to Kenya, where they lived until she turned 18. Dr. Dainty’s parents were medical missionaries; her father works as a nurse anesthetist.
She moved back to the U.S. to attend college and settled on Davidson College because of its size.
“Moving from a rural school in Kenya to a large U.S. school would have been a hard transition,” Dr. Dainty said.
Dr. Yusi grew up in Greenville and graduated from Eastside High. He chose Davidson College and secured an Army ROTC scholarship to fund his education.
They met as juniors at Davidson College and married in 2002.
Even though they began at the same college, Dainty and Yusi took different paths to the medical field.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was a little kid,” Dr. Dainty said. “There was never anything else I considered.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Yusi began his military career with plans to go into aviation. In 2001, he was deployed to Korea as a lieutenant in the medical service corps, where he planned, coordinated, and executed field training operations for combat medical and air ambulance units.
He became medical platoon leader of the 3rd battalion, 21st infantry regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington, then got called to serve in Northern Iraq as executive officer of the 102nd forward surgical team.
While Dr. Yusi gained medical experience and developed an interest in trauma surgeries, Dr. Dainty earned her MD at the University of Virginia. Then, in 2006, Dr. Dainty went on to her residency at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Dr. Dainty developed a lot of pride in the practical experience she got there.
“It’s a big inner-city population with lots of people who don’t get regular access to healthcare,” Dr. Dainty said. “It’s prepped me for being able to go overseas and do my global health fellowship.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Yusi began working toward his medical degree at Jefferson Medical College, also in Philadelphia.
The two lived in Kenya from 2011 and 2012 and studied at Moi University. She conducted research on the role of HPV testing in preventing cervical cancer. He analyzed patient patterns at an emergency department.
In 2012, the two moved to San Francisco, where he performed postgraduate work and she worked as an attending physician and assistant professor.
They welcomed their first child, Asher, in 2013.
A new challenge
Dr. Dainty is an expert at obstetrics and gynecology. But becoming a mother helped her develop a true appreciation for her patients and the work it takes to raise a child from birth.
“I do things for my child and I think, ‘My parents did this for me when I was a baby? Wow!’” Dr. Dainty said.
After years of living abroad, the two decided to move to Upstate South Carolina to be closer to their respective families.
And now, their family is larger … their daughter Zoe was born in 2017.
Drs. Yusi and Dainty haven’t lost their passion for global health care – the two plan to dedicate at least two weeks a year to international work. But they’re calling the Upstate their home.
“Medicine is not a nine-to-five job,” Dr. Yusi said. “It’s your whole life. We wanted to surround ourselves with a community that cares about the same things we do.”
They found that community in the Upstate, and at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.