Westmont Magazine Bringing Health to the Community
Warren Kuipers ’74 grew up wanting to be a doctor, but he got sidetracked in college. Admitting he was a “full-blown Jesus freak” at first, he eventually realized he needed to study more than just the Bible. Turned off by the “cold, formaldehyde pre-med experience,” he turned to sociology. Under the teaching of Brendan Furnish and Ron Enroth, he developed a love for the discipline and determined to devote his life to an “altruistic, meaningful career.”
An interest in missions led Warren to spend a year and a half in the Philippines working with a Christian physician and doing evangelism. The experience rekindled his desire to become a doctor, and he decided to enroll in medical school at Far Eastern University in Manila.
“I love the science of medicine, and I love being a physician,” he says. “Even as a kid I liked to read articles about spleens.”
During his fourth year of medical school he worked at an infirmary in New York City. While there, he met his wife, Rosanne, an Italian who grew up in Brooklyn. He also encountered the urban poor, which changed his idea about ministry. “Who needs to go overseas to serve the poor?” he asks. “There are plenty of poor people here in the United States.”
After serving a family practice residency in Kentucky, he and his family moved to Florida where he tried working in a private practice. But he didn’t care for the business end of the practice, worrying about paying the bills and finding new patients.
In the next few years, he worked in a church-based walk-in clinic, an emergency room and a county health department clinic for migrant farm workers. Since he saw many patients with addictions, STDs and AIDS, he became an expert in these areas. For four years, he was the only AIDS doctor in his area.
As a community health doctor, Warren realized he could combine his love for medicine, his interest in sociology and his desire to serve the poor in the name of Christ. He decided to get a master’s in international public health.
Today he works for the Casa Grande Community Health Center in Arizona, where many of his patients are Mexican migrants employed in agriculture. “It’s very satisfying work and an extension of my interest in sociology,” he says. “I love helping people with no access to medical care, and I especially love Hispanics.”
Despite an initial interest in public health issues, Warren decided to focus his energies on the poor when he encountered the anti-Christian bias of many public health activists.
Working with addicts has convinced him that spiritual change is the only way to stop recidivism. “It’s inspiring to hear recovering addicts talk about how God helped them clean up. Often the spiritual problem manifests as a chemical problem. Recovery has got to involve the spiritual aspect.”
Warren and Rosanne are involved in Mesa Baptist Church, where she teaches Bible studies for women. They have three children, including two sons they adopted from the Philippines, one of whom is a special-needs child. They are passionate about their children, their church and their opportunity to help the poor.