In order to advance Fountain’s vision of Christ centered health care in Congo, and the world, the Daniel Fountain Medical Memorial Fund is being established by American Baptist International Ministries (IM). This fund, along with the Miriam Fountain Fund, will be used to strengthen the training of Congolese health practitioners by reinforcing infrastructure, educational resources, and faculty for existing programs.
To contribute to the Daniel Fountain Medical Memorial Fund online, go to http://www.internationalministries.org/projects/92. To give by mail, make your check payable to International Ministries and on the memo line write: CONGO/VANGA/DAN FOUNTAIN FUND. Mail to International Ministries, Attn: Development Office, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482.
In view of Fountain’s passion for the training of future international medical missionaries in a Christ-centered model of healthcare, the construction of a training center at Vanga in the DR Congo is part of this dream. This fund, along with IM and the network of colleagues sharing this vision, can open the possibility for realizing that dream.
Vanga is a rural community in the Bandundu province of the DR Congo. The medical work at Vanga started in 1912 with an American Baptist medical missionary, William Leslie, M.D., who built the first hospital building in 1920. During the next forty years, the hospital grew into a 100- bed rural mission hospital. At the time its focus was primarily on curative care administered through general medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics. Since July 1960 the hospital has been run by the Congolese church and staff.
Dr. Fountain arrived in September 1961 with the vision of working with those already at Vanga to establish a Christian Congolese integrated health service to meet the health needs of the 250,000 people in the hospital catchment area. The initial step was training, so in 1962, a school for mid-level health practitioners – young men as nurse practitioners and young women as nurses and/or midwives — was established. Over the succeeding years, this permitted the hospital and local churches to build a network of health centers staffed by graduates of the Vanga medical training institute. By 1985, fifty such health centers were in place, giving complete coverage of the population with primary health care services.
During the mid-sixties, a community health outreach began working in the communities surrounding Vanga, always through local Protestant and Catholic churches and health centers. This resulted in improved sanitation, protected springs, improved nutrition, better management of the land and forests, and increased mother and child care. More than 300 communities established a development committee to motivate people to improve their own health conditions and to supervise health and development activities.
In 1978 a two-year family medicine residency began in the Vanga Hospital. This became approved in 1986, and in 1996 it grew to a three-year residency under the supervision of the Medical University of Southern Africa in Pretoria.
The team approach to caring for the whole person, attempting to meet the psycho-social and spiritual needs of patients as well as their physical needs, grew when a well-qualified Congolese woman pastor became part of the hospital staff as the spiritual caregiver. The medico-pastoral team worked to integrate and address physical symptoms with spiritual needs for all their patients, as Jesus did in his healing ministry. This ministry proved especially important as it offered affirmation and hope to the growing number of persons with HIV. As HIV crept slowly throughout the rural area, educational efforts to prevent its spread also became an integral part of the health service.
From the beginning, the health program at Vanga operated on a fee-for-service basis in order to maintain a sustainable program. In spite of the economic collapse of the country, this self-financed approach has proven effective. None-the-less, considerable investment of outside resources permitted the progressive development of the infrastructures of the health service and its outreach to more distant communities.
The hospital currently is a 450 bed multi-specialty teaching hospital with a staff of six physicians, 50 graduate nurses, and 6 – 8 family medicine residents. The rural health zone of 50 health centers is staffed by 60 nurses and 120 administrative and logistics personnel.
The celebration of life for Dr. Fountain will be on Saturday, April 6 at 2:15 pm. Village Church, Shell Point Retirement Community, 15000 Shell Point Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33908.
American Baptist International Ministries was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationship with God, and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
For more information, contact Catherine Nold: firstname.lastname@example.org
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.