A letter from Joyce N. Barlin, MD 2005-2006
To whom it may concern: My name is Dr. Joyce Barlin, and I am now an OB/GYN resident but I attended Albany Medical College. It seems that we all go into medicine with the altruistic desire to make a difference in the world. We want to help and heal and care. Medicine is often a field that one is called into. This calling is what my lead my hero Dr. Robert Paeglow (AKA Dr. Bob) to abandon the comfort of suburbia and the middle class and to live and work among the poorest people in Albany. He left the security of his current job to enter the realm of medical school. Upon graduating, he opened a clinic in West Hill named Koinonia Health Care, a Greek word that can best be translated into English as "fellowship" or "communion." Dr. Bob built a beautiful clinic to provide quality care to those in greatest need. He works hard and long hours, all without a salary, struggling to keep the clinic open every month. Dr. Bob spreads his love abroad as well, traveling to various countries including making regular mission trips to Uganda and Mozambique, where he leads a team to take care of hundreds of patients a day. The work begins at daylight and ends with sundown. I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Bob in both his clinic in Albany and on a medical mission trip to Uganda. I am amazed to see the complete care that he gives to his patients, acting as a physician, a counselor, a minister, and a friend During our trip to Uganda, you would often see Dr. Bob walking at the head of his faithful team of physicians, nurses, and medical students, looking much like a duck leading a family of ducklings. And so arose his loving nickname of "Papa Doc" as our Papa Duck. If you had the pleasure of meeting him, he has a warm, teddy bear, father-like quality about him. I honestly must give him a hug every time I see him! And just as parents put faith in their children, Dr. Bob sees the best in each person and helps to bring that out. Particularly as medical students still unsure of our own knowledge and skills, he believes in us often more than we believe in ourselves. Dr. Bob is always guiding us, but he has confidence enough to let us work to become caring physicians. So many things in life exist on a spectrum. I have found that on the spectrum of giving and loving and caring, Mr. Scrooge or the Grinch would be on one end (before their holiday transformation), and Dr. Bob would be on the other. He has given everything of himself, monetarily, physically, and spiritually. (And much credit to his supportive wife and family of course.) Dr. Bob is truly my living hero, a role model for me. Each one of us wants to find ourselves on his side of the spectrum, even if we are not willing to sacrifice to the extent that he has. Yet as Dr. Bob told us in Uganda, "It's not a matter of how much you give. It's simply a matter of giving." I know that you receive thousands of letters and e-mails, but I pray that you find this diamond in the rough. Dr. Bob has given so much, and I would love to see him receive the recognition and support that he so desperately deserves and needs.
I hope 2006 is the year for Papa Doc.
Sincerely yours, Joyce N. Barlin, MD