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Doctors’ medical seminars open more doors in Chile

CONCEPCION, Chile (BP)–A five-year partnership with a South American medical school has resulted from a seminar in Chile led by seven U.S. doctors.
“We have been receiving teams of Baptist medical professionals since 1992 that have come to operate clinics in area churches,” said Marilyn Graves, a Southern Baptist missionary nurse to Chile. “It is very new that Baptist doctors would present a medical seminar.”
Graves helped organize the October ’97 project with Lori Spikes, another missionary nurse in the country.
“The medical community has been very closed to ‘foreigners’ coming into their territory,” Spikes said, recounting that Baptist volunteers encountered resistance from national doctors when they tried to form relationships in the medical community.
Then they approached local doctors with the idea of seminar utilizing specialists from the United States.
“God had something special for each of us,” reported Dewey Dunn, an associate professor of medicine from Vanderbilt University and a member of the Baptist Medical-Dental Fellowship, a global network of 1,700 doctors and dentists.
Two fellowship doctors helped coordinate the trip: Larry Rogers of Knoxville, Tenn., and Francisco Albornoz with the Chile Department of Internal Medicine.
The Baptist team led a two-day conference on various medical topics at the Medical School of the University of Concepcion. Another group spoke to the medical school in Valparaiso, two hours from Santiago on the coast. Both teams also worked in local churches.
Humberto Rodriquez delivered a lecture in Spanish on teen pregnancy. A native of Peru, Rodriquez now works as an obstetrician/gynecologist in Knoxville. Joe Sweet also spoke in Spanish on the topic of asthma. He’s a member of an Hispanic congregation in Knoxville.
Greg Blake discussed hypertension and tobacco with statistics from a study in Santiago. He’s chairman of the residency program at the University of Tennessee’s medical school in Knoxville.
According to Graves, the local physicians were impressed at the willingness of team members to make rounds and “walk day by day with them in their routine activities.”
Dunn utilized the Spanish he had learned in other mission trips to South America to show medical students about patient histories and physical exams.
The teams finished their seminar with a course on cardio-pulmonary life support at the medical school.
“The response of the students was phenomenal,” Graves. Ruben Bermudez, chairman of the internal medicine department at the University of Concepcion, said he had never seen such a large crowd “in the medical school auditorium at 7 p.m. on a Friday.”
Volunteer students worked in teams of five with a manikin on stage in simulated emergencies. One included the coordination of care with a breathing tube, drugs and heart monitor. Baptist doctors then gave each volunteer a free T-shirt from the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
“Their contact here … has opened numerous doors for the gospel to be shared,” Graves said.
“The director of the regional hospital in Concepcion, the largest state hospital in Chile, invited the team to come back every year for the next five year,” she added, “to offer not only academic seminars but education about pastoral care — a newly forming concept in Chile.”
Results were similar in Valparaiso. “They are forming a Medical Dental Fellowship to encourage each other,” Spikes reported about Christian doctors in the area.
“In countless places around the world, God is using medical missions to open doors to the gospel,” said James D. Williams, executive director of the Baptist Medical-Dental Fellowship, based in Memphis, Tenn.

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  • Clay Renick