Nuzvid, India, February 2005
Gifford Memorial Hospital
Adventist Health International
Since retiring as a hospital administrator, I have endeavored to help our Seventh-day Adventist church in India for the last four years. A year ago the Southern Asia Division of the church voted to move ten of their hospitals under the umbrella of Adventist Health International. As a vice president in that organization I have been delighted with the resources that Loma Linda University has rallied to help us. After spending large amounts of my time trying to save Gifford Memorial Hospital in Nuzvid, India I was astounded at how a one-week visit by the plastic surgery team from Loma Linda University did more to turn the hospital around than all that we have done in the time prior to their visit. This team put a real emphasis on caring and quality. These are the areas that need to be taught and caught in all of our hospitals as we reach out to these dear people in need.
She was just seven years old but her eyes portrayed a life of pain and rejection. She was pretty until you saw her cleft lip. She had suffered years of rejection by everyone except her parents who loved her dearly. In her Hindu culture she was considered a devil with this hated cleft lip.
But here she was with fear in her eyes and hope that the miracle-working doctors from America could make her a new person. The plastic surgery team from Loma Linda University had come to help. They paid their own way and cheerfully put up with hardships in order to help people like her.
Someone on the team gave her a teddy bear and the fear began to recede a bit. Then the good news was translated to her. They could help. The fear was replaced by a shy grin and all could see life come back into her little soul.
This little girl and many others received a new life which had a significant effect on Gifford Memorial Hospital. Seventy five years ago the hospital was favorably know as the American Hospital and now it is again.
There were so many others; young women with terrible debilitating burns and the subsequent horrible scar tissue that kept them from having the full use of their limbs. This was deeply moving because many of these women had been burned in "kitchen fires."
When some men want a new wife or another dowry, their wives mysteriously catch on fire. They are marked for life and have very little chance of family life again, and the cruel scars hamper them from useful work. The plastic surgery team gave them the possibility of supporting themselves.
Now the hospital has gone from just a few patients to more than 40 a day. It has made so much difference. Now the hospital is again known as the American Hospital as it was years ago when it began.