The Good Samaritan Center: A clinic where patients have dignity

By: Jimmer Prieto

Last June 17, was an important moment for the Hispanic community of Goshen and the surrounding area. The joint work of several churches, organizations, companies and community leaders conceived, developed and brought into being the Good Samaritan Center for Health and Wholeness.

On that sunny afternoon, about 120 people came to the clinic, located at The Window, to dedicate the official opening of the center to the public.

This celebration included the donation of three works of art by three Hispanic artists from the community and the giving of plaques and certificates of recognition for the doctors as well as the immense number of other volunteers that made the project possible.

Why a new clinic? I’ll try to answer this question from the other side, as a Latin Americam. For most Latin Americans, the priest, the teacher and the doctor are three very important figures in the community’s eyes. Perhaps this is because of the assumption that the community’s spiritual, cultural and physical health emanate from these three figures.

“My painting is called peace and culture” said Juan Calderón: “In the left side there is an Aztec and to the right side there is a woman with the head dress of the eagle of the United States. In the center there is a pyramid and on top of it is the virgin of Guadalupe; whom all of Mexico believes in.”

Christian Santos, the author of this painting said about his work: “The work symbolizes the love of a couple, that gives a fruit which is a child. As the child grows, life will present will lay many paths in front of him, some good and some bad. In all of the paths of a human being, there are important health issues.

As we examine the heart of a Guatemalan or Peruvian peasant, for example, we will find in the devotion to these three figures the echo of various generations of the past, telling their painful story.

Each person of mixed race holds in his blood indelible codes of his indigenous, African and Spanish ancestors.

After the inevitable fall of the indigenous cultures before the Spanish conqueror, descendant indians learned to love their cruel executioners. Through generations of oppression they learned to accept the new religion, to live within the western “good manners” and to heal their bodies away from their indigenous magical cures. This created an unequal relationship between the Indians and their feudal masters. It was a paternalistic relationship, a relationship between one who knew and another who didn’t know. From the ones who had it all to those who lacked. From the one who really was important to those who weren’t.

In such a context, the priest, the teacher and the doctor became a part of the higher caste and have remained in this position through the years in Latin America. Without exception, the religious, educational and medical institutions have developed at the expense of the poor and have gained power from the political regimes currently in power.

As these institutions became more wealthy, the villages became more oppressed and underdeveloped, without even participating in the telling of their own history.

This is how the humble people view the priest, the teacher and the doctor.

In this way of looking at life sums up the moral and ideological dependence of the Latinos towards those who exercise power.

Because of the power of centuries of history, Latinos learned to be good parishioners, passive students and defenseless patients,

unable to consider as equals, nor question the system that exploits them and oppresses them. Only in the last 50 years, have these frozen sociological patterns begun to change for good.

What does this have to do with the new clinic? Very simply, since we began to dream about it, it was our intention that the clinic was a place where the patient could be a participant in his own health care, a place where the patient and the doctor could find and heal one another. In short, a practical laboratory of faith and Christian love where all recognize their mutual weakness and need for God.

From this clear idea, the members of the board of directors could understand the need for the community in general to participate in the project with their talents, even in the construction of the building.

All this makes up the essence of the Good Samaritan Center for Health and Wholeness and we are proud to have arrived to the point of its opening on June 17.

There is an aspect of the clinic that comes from a previous center, from the Juan Diego Health Center, directed by Deacon Ricardo Medina, of the Catholic Church. Under his direction, many people in the community benefitted. They remember with tenderness the care and attention they received. The directives of the Good Samaritan Center recognize there are similarities and differences, as much in the form as in the heart of both health care projects. Although in different boats, we all navigate the current of the great love of Him who paid for our faults with his own life.

eeepa!! This seems to be what is heard when Terry Wedel dances with Dr. Carolyn Klaus. They are not really dancing, but receiving a certificate for their hard work.

Julie Diener and Dr. Susan Cracraft served punch and finger food to more than 120 people who attended the event.