Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hands of Hope for Working Families

Our church hosted an associational women's meeting on Monday, and we were pleased to learn more about Sarah Bethel's Hands of Hope Family Clinic. Actually Dr. Jack Keller and many others from First Baptist Church and other churches dreamed this dream and brought it to fruition. But Mindy Hammond, director, let us know that Sarah was instrumental in causing her to give up her well-paid job and come to direct the clinic.

Mindy paid much well-earned respect to Sarah, her former supervisor at Marion Hospital, who with others established this clinic for working families. Despite being employed, these families ccannot afford health care nor health insurance. Mindy told us that the average salary of people they help is $7 an hour. Figure that out with a 40 hour week (which many people cannot obtain) and you will quickly see why these citizens cannot afford doctors nor expensive medicines.

Hands of Hope is open to see patients on Tuesday evenings and Thursday afternoons thanks to Dr. Keller and Dr. Jeff Parks and many other volunteers. The clinic is not designed for emergency care, and patients must have an appointment, which they can obtain by calling (618)998-8282 for information.

People can call Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Clinic workers will determine if they are elgible when they call to set up an appointment. Patients are asked to bring proof of income and residency in Franklin, Johnson, or Williamson Counties to their first appointment.

The brochure passed out explains the types of care available to uninsured working families who meet the income criteria and do not have access to Medicaid, Medicare, or Veterans Benefits.

Available care includes: scheduled primary care, check-ups, physical exams, acute non-emergency medical care, diagnostic tests (such as lab work or X rays) at designated hospitals when ordered by clinic physicians, help with obtaining prescription medications, and referrals to other agencies. Mindy also stated that prayer is used not only to keep the clinic open, but to help those who need better health.

Since the clinic was established in 1999, thousands upon thousands of dollars' worth of care and medications have been provided to working families. At the beginning, no other such clinic existed south of Springfield. Now both Carbondale and Saline County also have clinics.

Many more serious health problems can be prevented when early care is provided to people. How good it is that so many have donated time, service, and money to keep the clinic going. If you gave to United Way in Marion, you helped the clinic financially. But other donations are always needed along with your prayers. Why not drop by 808 West Prairie Street in Marion and take them a small check? Or a big check if you can afford it!

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