Saturday, April 22, 2000

Group to give aid in Cuba

Team to share faith, medical supplies

BY Janet C. Wetzel
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — While many area residents share Easter with families, a group of medical professionals and religious volunteers will be in Cuba, sharing their medical and spiritual knowledge with strangers.

[photo] Donna and Roy Cline
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        Sixteen doctors, dentists, psychologists and other volunteers from Greater Cincinnati and beyond leave today for Cuba, where they will spend 10 days conducting training seminars in hospitals and holding childrens' events in churches.

        The team is sponsored by Caring Partners International Inc., (CPI) an 8-year-old, international medical missions organization based in Middletown, said Roy Cline, president and CEO.


        “We take medical teams around the world, and also provide medical supplies and equipment to third world countries,” said Mr. Cline, who has been to Cuba twice.

        As his wife, Donna, packed bags of medical supplies Friday, he pointed out room after room full of equipment in the warehouse — outdated but useable monitors, surgical instruments, boxes of syringes, stretchers and diagnostic machines.

        CPI supplies, which ultimately help hundreds of thousands worldwide, are desperately needed, Mr. Cline said. He displayed a small box of sutures, which he said could cost $500 some places. Mr. Cline said doctors in some countries say their suture supply is so limited they've had to remove them from one patient, clean them and reuse them.

        CPI, which includes a small staff, a board and scores of volunteers, sponsors about four trips annually, plus ships supplies worldwide. Area churches are sponsors, and local hospitals donate supplies. The teams, which come from around the country, pay their own ex penses for trips to such places as India and China.

        This Cuba team, headed by Dr. Robert Lerer, CPI board president, will carry a few medical supplies as token gifts to hospitals, plus 2,000 children's gifts.

        A load of other supplies is being shipped, said Dr. Lerer, a Fairfield pediatrician and Butler County Health Commissioner. He's also associate professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.

        “We will be working with five medical schools, six hospitals, six churches and one children's cancer hospital, and having parties for children at churches in four provinces,” said Dr. Lerer.

        This will be the fifth Cuban trip for Dr. Lerer, who lived in Cuba for 14 years as a child, and his wife, Janis, a retired psychiatric nurse.

        “I feel that God is calling me to be of service in areas where he has given me gifts and talents,” Dr. Lerer said. “I think most people who work with this mission will tell you the same thing.”

        The program is called Evangelism Through Medicine. “We conduct the evangelistic part by getting into the country and doing medical work,” Mr. Cline said. “There are many countries in many areas where regular western missionaries can't work effectively. We're invited by national church leaders.”

        In some countries they set up clinics, treat patients and provide medicine, plus hold church services. In others, they have training seminars and children's programs in churches.

        And their efforts pay numerous dividends.

        “An ultrasound machine we sent to Cuba two years ago was used within two weeks to diagnose cancer in a minister's wife,” Mr. Cline said. “She had surgery and recovered.”


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