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June 20, 1990

Treating the American tragedy— MDs try to heal the sick homeless

JAMA. 1990;263(23):3201-3203. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440230107042

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MEDICAL missionary A. Janelle Goetcheus, MD, has seen great poverty and human suffering in the heart of Africa, but she has found the greatest medical neglect and despair closer to home:

In this nation's capital, Washington, DC.

A native of Muncie, Ind, and a 1965 graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Goetcheus, 48, and her husband Allen Goetcheus, a Methodist minister, always thought that they would work overseas as part of a healing ministry. However, while awaiting a visa to Pakistan in 1975, the couple stopped in Washington, DC, to visit a church-supported project to provide housing for the poor. They found that the poor also had little or no health care.

"It was a real eye-opening experience for me," recalls Dr Goetcheus. "Everybody we saw talked about their difficulties in finding basic medical care." Allen and Janelle Goetcheus decided to do their missionary work in America