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Medical Mission – Fruitful Harvest – 2001

Fruitful Harvest Medical Mission 2001 with coordinated volunteering efforts by LUSCAN members.

There were 45 health professionals, clergy, and lay volunteers from Connecticut, Ohio, Texas, and Missouri who went to Loreto, Province of Dinagat Islands, Philippines. One hundred four (104) surgeries ranging from skin cysts to goiters, harelips, and C-sections were performed. The major procedures were done in Surigao City and Cebu City. Dr. Rowan Labrador, a surgeon from Ohio was stationed in Surigao Provincial Hospital; and Dr. John Zalem and Dr. Caleb Paniamogan were in Loreto for minor procedures. Around 2000 pairs of used and new reading glasses were given out as well as bibles in Cebuano dialect. Two dentists extracted 397 teeth from 252 patients. (That’s a lot of teeth!!).

Medicines were purchased from Europe by the King City Baptist Church and other Churches in Texas involved with the Fruitful Harvest Mission. Some surgical supplies were provided by the Baptist Medical Center of Kansas City and Griffin Memorial Hospital of Derby, CT through the efforts of Luscan’s Dr. Harold Ballares and Dr. Caleb Paniamogan.

News Briefs for Griffin News, Derby, CT – May 24, 2001

For eight Griffin Hospital employees, an early summer trip to the Philippines will hardly be a vacation. A group of Griffin doctors, nurses, medical technicians and physician’s assistants will head to the Philippine Island of Loreto on May 31 on a mission to provide free medical care for the region’s more than 5,000 residents who have no other means of medical treatment.

The group, which includes Caleb Paniamogan, DO, an osteopathic physician in Griffin’s Emergency Department, Griffin surgeon John Zelem, M.D., ER nurses Lori O’Rourke and Lori Evans, ER Physician’s Assistant Dan Cervonka, ER technician Grace Malasankas, and volunteer Jim Pavelka will meet up with others on this two-week mission sponsored by a Texas-based Baptist organization. The Fruitful Harvest Ministries was established in 1991. The ministry has traveled to 9 different countries for medical and evangelical missions. Dr. Panaimogan’s mother was born on the Island of Loreto.

The group has received many donated items from the Griffin Hospital community as well as former patients, friends and other church groups particularly Trinity Episcopal Church in Seymour. Items include obsolete medical equipment and supplies from Griffin Hospital, new and old eyeglasses, children’s clothing, candy, gum, sticker and lollipops as well as monetary donations from other Griffin Hospital departments and personnel.

“We are just overwhelmed by the support for this program by everyone,” said Grace Malasankas who pointed out that former patients who heard about the effort are handing over supplies and monetary donations. Malasankas said she was floored by a elderly former patient who handed her $20 she had earmarked for her weekly Bingo game. “She said she could go without Bingo this month to help people in the Philippines.” Malasankas also recalled the donation of baby clothes by a woman whose baby died of SIDS and offered the clothes to thank Griffin’s ER staff for all they had done to help her.

Armed with these donations, the group plans to set up a makeshift hospital and treat illnesses such as diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer and others that have gone untreated. The medical staff will likely see more than 1,000 patients a day who have sold off their belongings in order to pay for transportation to the hospital facility in the gymnasium of the Loreto school.

The Griffin contingent has taken two weeks vacation and has paid their own way in order to minister medical care for these less privileged residents of Loreto. The group will return to the United States on June 17.

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