IT ALL started with two doctor brothers and their wives, who are both sisters and nurses. These couples are better known as Wendell and Gladys Malin, and Lawrence and June Malin. The four, working together, began a medical work that has expanded into three fine hospitals, employing 716 full- and part-time employees. Eugene Leland Memorial, Wytheville, and Tidewater Memorial hospitals are owned by an organization known as the Medical Group Foundation. The purpose of this foundation is to foster small Adventist hospitals in needy areas and to establish medical group practice in connection with these hospitals. To be a full member of the Medical Group Foundation one must be a Seventh-day Adventist. In fact, the members of the hospital boards and the twelve physicians conducting the group practice for the three institutions are all Seventh-day Adventists.
You will notice that the initials of this foundation, MGF, correspond to the initials in the title of this editorial. The one intention of the Malin brothers was to establish memorials for God through faith, and they have!
We wish to give honor where honor is due to institutions such as these that are sprinkled like grains of salt around the world.
Self-supporting hospitals' bed capacity in the North American Division is 2,800 compared to 7,800 beds in church-owned med ical institutions. Many of these fine self-supporting groups, along with our church-owned hospitals, are nobly attempting to conduct their medical and surgical work in accordance with the will of God, which has removed and is removing prejudice and bringing Adventists into favorable notice. But more than this, they are reaching people with the love of Christ.
This editor recently spent a few days in Leland Memorial Hospital, undergoing a bit of muscle re pair. The warmth and efficiency of the hospital personnel impressed me greatly. Even though my case was not a serious one, Dr. Rowland Wilkinson offered a beautiful prayer prior to the operation. To most people facing surgery, a prayer is not only reassuring but it clearly identifies the doctor as a person who recognizes his subordinate position to the Master Physician.
The chaplains visited my room daily; not because I was an Adventist minister, but because of their concern for the spiritual welfare of every patient and because this is their daily routine.
My heart was also greatly warmed by the Sabbath afternoon visit of the sunshine band from the Beltsville Adventist church. They slowly wended their way through the halls singing of the love of God.
I knew I was on Christian territory when I noticed the bookrack in my room holding a Bible and Adventist literature.
Even my anesthetist, Mrs. Marjean Hensdill, paid me a visit. When time permits, she attempts to contact all the patients who have required her services. This certainly is beyond the call of duty, and it made me feel that the hospital was not just a smooth-running, well-oiled machine, but a vibrant, living organism concerned for its clients.
Upon entering the hospital I was given a packet that included the booklet Steps to Christ, a brochure entitled "A Quick Look at Seventh-day Adventists," and a health-education leaflet that people could use to make known their desires to join a cooking class, Five-Day Plan to Stop Smoking, or to receive information on a score of various health-related problems. One brochure that caught my attention described their vegetarian diet in a very interesting and positive way. This position was supported by good scientific reasons. The closing paragraph of the brochure read as follows:
"Well, friends, hope this gives you a better understanding of the hospital's dietary plan. After re viewing the facts, it made good therapeutic sense to us to serve plant-food menus to our patients. Bye now! I wish you a speedy recovery!"
The "I" referred to the kernel of wheat called "Wheaty" who explained the why's and wherefore's of Leland Hospital's vegetarian diet.
In this institution the only way to get flesh food, tea, or coffee, is for a friend or relative to bring it to you.
I was interested in the dietary follow-up program. The dietitian, Mrs. Peggy Greenley, visits every patient sometime during his stay in the hospital. She gives him an additional leaflet on vegetarianism, which briefly explains the rationale behind this nutritional plan. She asks the patients for their opinion of the food. Only two, out of a full patient load of seventy-six, responded negatively during that particular round of the dietitian. Then Mrs. Greenley stated, "Even if we served them meat some would still complain, so we simply tell those in this category that we probably couldn't cook the meat to suit their taste and perhaps someone in their family could fix them an acceptable meat dish."
You can't please everybody, but the facts are that the great majority enjoy the meatless diet, and the results are evident. That very week, I was told, five former patients had called the hospital seeking further information regarding our vegetarian entrees.
The spiritual impact the Seventh-day Adventist hospital, whether church or privately owned, can make on its patients is almost limitless. These institutions have the privilege and responsibility of keeping a spiritual priority in their labors.
The lesson of Christ healing the paralytic supports this concept. Here was a man who, like multitudes today, desired relief from the burden of sin. It is doubtful that the paralytic fully understood his longings. One thing he knew for certain: he was not at peace with himself and he wanted release from his persecuting conscience.
What was the first thing Christ did for His patient? Give him a shot? Take his temperature? Listen to his heartbeat? No! He began working on his spiritual nature first. The healing words "My son, your sins are forgiven" had an immediate transforming effect.
Perhaps this dramatic experience cannot be exactly paralleled in our health ministry today. But from admission to discharge, a patient in an Adventist institution should be exposed to the trans forming effect of the Christian lives of the hospital personnel. He should also be given a win some example of the Adventist way of life. There is a healing balm in a thoroughly Christ-oriented hospital that cannot be duplicated or replaced by man's inventions.
We salute the efforts made by the Christian workers to help patients mentally, physically, and spiritually in both the self-supporting and church-owned hospitals.