Getting It

June 11, 2019
Getting It Al Weir, MD June 11, 2019

“Whoever closes his ears to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13, ESV).

Last week my son-in law-called me with a new problem. He had sneezed vigorously, and, after that sneeze, had developed periorbital pain, swelling around his eye and a minor change in vision. My daughter sent me a text picture of his eyes with one pupil smaller than the other. I had no idea what was going on, but, as an oncologist, I had seen nasopharyngeal cancers looking just so. I knew we had to evaluate a potentially serious problem. Given his lack of health insurance, I asked him, “Did you ever establish yourself as a patient at the Church Health Center?” When he told me he had “not gotten around to it,” the thousands of dollars he was facing for MRI, radiation and chemotherapy moved to the front of my brain. “You have got to go do that today. Drop everything, including your work, and get that done now!”

Even though I serve regularly at a healthcare center for the poor and participate in international missions where the poor are clearly underserved, I just don’t get “healthcare for the poor” until it happens to those I love. I know the facts of diminished access, delayed care and broken finances during sickness, but I don’t really get it in my heart.

How do I get it? And if I get it, what should I do about it? How should we, as followers of Christ, serve within a healthcare system that does not provide equal care for the poor and uninsured?

  1. If God calls us, we should serve full-time in an occupation caring for the poor.
  2. God has called all of us to give some of our time in caring for the poor, both in our country and others. I must do so.
  3. We should work within our own practice settings to be sure that the uninsured receive the same care as the insured.
  4. We should work within the political system to be sure the uninsured receive excellent care, whatever political party we favor.

I need to gain a heart-deep understanding of the poor and healthcare. When Jesus touched and healed, it had nothing to do with the pocket book. I need to get that.

Dear Father,
Help me fulfill Your mission to the poor with the healthcare skills You have entrusted to me.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.