Community health clinic practices trial run

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lillian Culpepper was not 28 like her patient chart read last week, but she can relate to the aches and pains of the patient she played during a trial run for the Community of Hope Health Clinic.

Her character was a mother in her late 20s who had a skin rash, joint pain and exhaustion, but no healthcare.

“This seemed to be a good opportunity to help people who really need it,” Culpepper said. “I understand how much insurance costs, and for people who do not have, it I know they have no alternative.”

A handful of volunteers filled out patient charts and even sat in the waiting room at the Shelby County Health Department last week to work out kinks in the clinic’s plan before it opens. Volunteer physicians and nurses will begin seeing patients Thursday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the health department. Individuals are eligible for care at the clinic if they are 19-64 years old and live at or below 200 percent of the poverty level.

Clinic board member Darby McElderry feels the organization has come a long way from this time a year ago.

“We’ve identified areas to help with patient flow and most importantly figured out our computer system,” she said. “As someone who’s been involved from the beginning (October 2007), it really was amazing to see the response at training. I’m just amazed that we’ve finally gotten to this point.”

The health department offered the organization seven patient rooms, cabinet space and offices each night the clinic is open.

Now they know that each of the physicians will have three rooms to work with Thursday.

They also know where to find supplies and how the computer system works to fill in electronic medical records.

Volunteers aim to see 25 patients during the clinic’s first night.

Volunteer Lynn Hill has lived in Shelby County for more than 40 years.

“They’re hurt; they’re sick … they have no insurance,” Hill said. “It’s just something that when we found out about it we said, ‘Hey, lets see if there’s something we can do. God’s been good to us, it’s time for us to give back.’”

Faith will also play a strong part in the clinic. And pastors like William T. Evans, senior pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist in Montevallo, will be on hand to provide holistic healing.

“We try and let them know that the doctor has their part to do the physical, and we as chaplains we take care of the spiritual,” Evans said.

Social workers will also be available to help patients find other resources such as food stamps or transportation.