HISTORY

OUR BEGINNING:
In 1961 Dr. Daniel I. Gruver and his wife, Jane Gruver, went to the Canal Zone, Panama, to do a surgical residency at Gorgas Hospital. They wanted to do mission work in South America and Gorgas Hospital offered tropical medicine. On weekends Daniel served three major Indigenous tribes doing medical work. Along with his backpack full of medical supplies, he hiked into the interior or flew to the islands. The First Baptist Church of Balboa built a clinic on the central island of San Blas (see map). After completing his residency in 1963, Daniel started working full time at the clinic on Ailigandi.

Aligandi is an eight acre islands with 2,000 Kunas. The two room clinic had four cots and was without medicine, equipment, water, electricity or helpers. Daniel spoke excellent Spanish but not Kuna. During the following ten years the clinic grew into a 60 bed hospial. Being the only doctor for 35,000 kunas, Daniel's medical service included dentistry. Daniel trained his own Kuna nurse aids and lab assistants. A major problem in San Blas is protein starvation among babies. This is different from general starvation because it is almost impossible to reverse. The Alligandi Hospital started a baby-feeding center (Comidor) where they fed 400 children per day. Other medical challenges were a large incidence of clef-lip babies, other birth defects and skin cancers. Daniel, a general surgeon, found himself doing a large amount of plastic surgery. In 1979, with the assurance from Panamanian President Omar Torrijos (Dictator), Daniel left the hospital in the care of another doctor and completed his plastic surgery residency in Miami, Florida. Before Daniel's return to Panama, Torrijos was killed and Noriego came to power. Noriego then refused to allow any american doctors to practice in Panama. As we could not send an American Missionary doctor, we realized the need to educate Kunas as doctors. The mission has successfully graduated 6 kuna doctors: four men and two women. These Christian doctors have become wonderful leaders in their Kuna Communities.

SAN BLAS MEDICAL MISSION:
A 501-3C non-profit organization incorporated in North Dakota, located in Penney Farms, Florida. 
BOARD MEMBERS:
All members are non-paid volunteers.
Tim Vickey, President,
Dr. Daniel Marcus Gruver, Vice President, Optometrist
Jane Gruver, Secretary, Retired teacher and missionary
Maureen Horsley, Pediatric Nurse
Rev Donald Jordan, Missionary in Panama
Rachael Seiler, North Dakota agent
Bill Hicks, Pyschoanalyst, goes on mission trips.
Dana Reiner, Web Manager