It was the year 2000. Dr. Bob Paeglow had just returned from doing medical missions in Kenya and Uganda. He had seen 17,000 people in over three weeks, and he was burned out. But then, something changed.
Dr. Bob – as he is known – heard God tell him, “I want you to take my healing power into your office. Bring prayer and worship in that atmosphere, and you will see miracles of healing like you’ve never dreamed or imagined.” Dr. Bob felt the distinct impression that he wasn’t done – there was plenty more for him yet.
That year, a friend invited him to a conference on spiritual warfare in Kansas City. Dr. Bob would need to take time off to go. When he approached his boss, who had been frustrated at faculty for taking time off without notice, the boss said, “Sure, no problem.” That was the first miracle, Dr. Bob said. He had no excuse not to go. So, he went in October 2000.
It was there that he had a vision of returning to his old neighborhood in West Hill, where he grew up, to start this practice for the poor. He even remembered the address. Upon his return from the conference, Dr. Bob visited his pastor, Jay Francis, who told him about a building for sale in West Hill. It was the same address as he had seen in his dreams. The building sale price was $1.7 million dollars, but Dr. Bob purchased it for $250,000, with monies miraculously provided by God within a few days. They closed on the building in January 2001, and Dr. Bob gave up his job as medical director for the department of family practice at Albany Medical Center.
Dr. Bob and his wife, Leane, a nurse, moved to Clinton Ave. in April 2001. Koinonia Health Care and Psychiatric Services, PC became incorporated on February 14, 2002, Dr. Bob’s birthday. The grand opening was February 24 that month. The word, koinonia, means “fellowship” or “communion.” The practice was originally started by Dr. Bob and two psychiatrists. He bought them out in 2005.
Leane and Dr. Bob lived in the Episcopal Church’s rectory, where they stayed rent-free for ten years, because they couldn’t afford to pay rent. Dr. Bob didn’t take home a salary until four years ago, because the practice took everything.
“All through it all, I knew God had called us to do this work. It was an exercise in faith and believing in Him. Time after time, things would happen. Miracles. We’d be rescued from the brink of bankruptcy. We gave everything we had to invest in the poor. It was the right thing to do. It was what God called us to do,” Dr. Bob said.
In 2007, the practice name was changed to Koinonia Primary Medical Care, PC. Six years later, it became Koinonia Primary Care, Inc., a New York State Article 28 non-profit Diagnostic and Treatment Center Safety Net Clinic. It is now overseen by a board of directors.
Koinonia Primary Care is a special place. It’s in the poorest neighborhood in the city of Albany, filled with tremendous needs.
This is a hard place to serve. “The people really struggle, and it’s challenging for people to have hope. That’s what we feel we are ultimately: a ministry of hope,” Dr. Bob said.
Koinonia Primary Care (KPC) has served countless patients since its inception. A unique practice, KPC has been recognized for its innovation in integrating primary care with mental health care. Patients can seek medical attention and behavioral health specialists in the same visit. The staff also prays for their patients, with them if granted permission to do so, because the practitioners truly care.
The practice has grown tremendously, and there is an ongoing need for more staff. Volunteers, medical professionals and even medical students from Albany Medical College have all given their time and talent to serve the patients and KPC community.
The extended Paeglow family has touched the practice and community in some way. Bob Paeglow Jr. is the COO. His wife, Tara Paeglow, started working as the full-time medical records person in September 2006 and now work works part-time, assisting her husband and doing community outreach events such as the Christmas blessing party and store. Amanda Paeglow, Leane’s and Dr. Bob’s daughter, started working at Koinonia in 2015 and is now part-time receptionist. Leane is still a full-time RN at the clinic.
“We’re responding to the needs of the community with our five loaves and two fish,” Dr. Bob said. “We find that God blesses and multiples, and we’re able to help a lot of people. It was born in faith, walked out in faith, continues to be an exercise in faith, God saying to us, ‘Do you believe me that I can do this thing?’ We’re like, ‘Yes, Lord, we believe; help us in our unbelief.’ ”