Partners in healing
Steven Daugherty, a physician practicing in Springfield, Mo., sensed God calling him to compassionate action as he watched televised coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. He quickly organized mobile medical teams in partnership with his home church, James River Assembly of God in Ozark, Mo. Daugherty spoke with Associate Editor Scott Harrup.
PE: You saw a diabetic woman on television suffering from a lack of insulin. What happened next?
DAUGHERTY: It appeared this woman was sliding into diabetic coma, a condition that requires a lot of fluids, and she needed insulin. A nurse was trying to take care of her and many other people, and there was no physician to help her. I thought, I could help that woman if I were there. I talked to Pastor John Lindell and he promised to assist us. I found other doctors and nurses who wanted to minister, and James River Assembly committed transportation for us to get there and back.
PE: How long did a typical day of outreach last? What conditions did team members face?
DAUGHERTY: While Convoy of Hope distributed supplies, we held a free medical clinic at its sites all day. We also sent personnel to a local hospital to help man the emergency room and assist medical personnel in caring for patients. We were able to staff some areas of the hospital around the clock.
A big part of our outreach involved supplying medications, because many people fled without taking sufficient amounts of it. We also treated basic injuries and infections complicated by the lack of resources. There was everyday stuff too, like kids with sore throats and ear infections. Simple conditions got much worse because of the delay in receiving medical attention.
PE: Why is it vital that people take a long-range view of this crisis?
DAUGHERTY: There will always be needs arising that Christians must respond to. ItÕs the whole point of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Who is my neighbor? The neighbors for our Missouri doctors and nurses happened to be Mississippi and Louisiana residents. We have to ask ourselves what we have learned from this experience that can make us be better neighbors next time.
PE: What images from the flood zone are hardest to forget?
DAUGHERTY: As we walked into a local hospital we found a group of doctors and nurses and other personnel who had worked round the clock for four days. When we said we were there to help, they knew they werenÕt alone.
PE: How has your relief work impacted your return to daily life?
DAUGHERTY: It made me realize that everything I do, even the day-to-day medical work, is to the glory of God.
PE: What do you tell people who ask you what they can do to help?
DAUGHERTY: All of us can pray and give something. Even the smallest donation can make a difference when added to others. And some of us with specific expertise can go. I put IVs in patients, but IÕm not the best person to put a roof on a house.
PE: How has this experience shaped your faith?
DAUGHERTY: At every stage, I could see that God was at work through all of us, guiding our steps and connecting us with the people who needed us the most.
PE: Though Hurricane Katrina is moving off the front page why is it important that believers continue to respond?
DAUGHERTY: By now it may seem like the hurricane hit a long time ago. But for the people there itÕs still fresh in their minds. WeÕll move on to other issues, but they still need our help, our support and our encouragement. They need to know that weÕll continue to be right there with them.
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