Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY
Business Office: 68 South Swan Street - Albany, NY 12210 - (518) 465-4737
Christ the King Spiritual Life Center: 575 Burton Road - Greenwich, NY 12834 - (518) 692-9550

Can There Be an Enhancement to a Perfect Gift?

Paul Gutmann

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.”
1 Corinthians 12: 4-6

Every year, for the past nine years, Robin Baxter, R.N., of St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid, NY has organized and inspired a group of dedicated volunteers. This team consists of physicians, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, pharmacists, clergy, interpreters, students, and support personnel for all of the above. These folks come together to share their love and concern for the poor, the sick, and those in need in the Dominican Republic. They provide primary health care to some of the world’s poorest people, who otherwise have no access to such health care. Most importantly, this mission is one of Healing, Love, Hope, and Spiritual Fellowship. The skills, the vacation time sacrificed, the medicine, and the travel and lodging costs absorbed by the volunteers combine to make a perfect gift to our extremely appreciative Dominican brothers and sisters.

The primary health care providers on this mission team have observed that as many as 80% of the Dominican patients that they treat suffer from internal parasites and diarrheal illnesses. People so afflicted look at us with sad, listless eyes. When offered antiparasitic medicine, their faces register hope for the same brief reprieve from their unfortunate tradition of living with chronic dehydration and abdominal discomfort that last year’s medication provided. A lack of physical health drains a person until he or she has no energy left for spiritual health.

In the Dominican Republic, water itself is in short supply, and the only water that is safe to drink is bottled water. Therefore, in March of 2007, the team accepted a water treatment technician, Paul Gutmann, as a volunteer. This year, the entire team was excited about the prospect of providing cures for water waterborne illnesses with hope of preventing recurrence.

Whenever the primary health care providers prescribed medicine for an illness that could have been caused by waterborne microbes, they sent their patient to hear Gutmann prescribe prevention. He taught about the importance of safe potable water and, also, how to obtain safe potable water in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Gutmann was able to organize a group of Dominican community leaders to teach about, and to distribute home water purification units. Two hundred of these home water purifiers are scheduled to arrive in the Dominican Republic in June of 2007. The home purifiers that will satisfy the particular needs of the people for whom they are intended consist of two plastic buckets, two filters, some simple plumbing and can be delivered to the Dominican Republic for about $38.00 each. Just imagine a gift that will empower an extended family to prevent waterborne disease, reduce infant mortality, and avoid debilitating diarrhea.

In addition, “Prescribing Prevention”, the safe water enhancement to the mission, was able to bring the technical support necessary to start up a small water treatment plant that had been installed in 2005 but never before used. Now, this water plant can provide safe water to the mission school, medical clinic, and church as well as furnish bottled water for sale to the community. In all these various ways, the Medical Mission with its “Prescribing Prevention” enhancement achieved success beyond our wildest dreams with the gift of enduring physical health and adequate energy for spiritual health!

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