Thursday, May 21, 2009

"I'll go"

(For travel in Asia, go to 11/2008-1/2009)

Last week I spoke at the main service at my church. The idea was that I would speak to the help given our clinic (Agape Clinic) by the First Presbyterian Foundation. During the service I sat next to Dan F, my spiritual teacher for these past 15 or so years and that was a great honor for me. Here is what I prepared for the talk and pretty much what I said:

A front page feature article in the Morning News today is titled, “Facing an Ailing System – North Texans figure out ways to cope as they find limited remedies for affordable care.”

The Texas Medical Association website reports 16% of people in America are uninsured and Texas is in (where else) last place with 25% of the population uninsured.

At Agape – with wonderful help from this church – we serve the uninsured, the working poor, the people who process the chicken we eat, who mow our lawns, who clean our offices and hospital rooms – we serve the people who cannot get Medicaid, who cannot access services at Parkland or Project Access or Homes or anywhere else.

We serve our patients and families and community with:
  • Primary care for acute illness
  • Specialty care, including psychiatry, dermatology, gynecology, pediatrics, asthma
  • Spiritual care (with help from our wonderful new Grace pastor, Diana Holbert)
  • Community education
  • Follow-up for patients with chronic illness
  • Health screening
  • Service learning site students from Baylor, UTSW, UTA and others

We are unique among community-based clinics in that we do all the above AND we are a medical home for people with chronic illness – the Morning News article gives some insight into how hard that is to find.

The FPC Foundation invests in the Agape Promotoras de Salud – the lay health promoters, women from the community (clinic patients) who triage and teach our patients, who teach in the community, who assist doctors and nurses, who provide spiritual care, who are the connections among patients, clinic, and community. When the swine flu thing started nobody knew how it would go – a disaster or just another variation on influenza (pretty bad in itself!). I asked the promotoras if anyone would work the fever, cough and congestion hall with me and Irma said, “I’ll go.”

A moment ago I said, “with wonderful help from this church” – I was referring to monetary help. But I also mean other sorts of help – the support from the men in G5 Men’s Bible Study – and especially I meant the support, when I have nothing left to give, of a church where we’re taught that practicing mercy is a spiritual practice. And it’s not a theoretical teaching – it’s reality here, in the lives of teachers, at the Stewpot, in hospital visits, in support for incarcerated youth, in people’s homes when Cynthia brings communion to the sick and the dying. It’s a good church.

So, on a personal note, it’s good to have a church home and I thank you.

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