Clinic shows concern for all citizens

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.”

—Thomas Fuller

It is easy to assume in a county with such affluence and low unemployment that every resident of Shelby County has access to quality healthcare when it’s needed. Easy to assume, unless you are one of the estimated 7,000 Shelby County residents without health insurance.

Every day, people in our community go without help in dealing with illnesses and, many times, major injuries because of a lack of access to healthcare. A startling fact: those without basic health insurance made up 25 percent of the emergency room visits to Shelby Baptist Medical Center in 2005.

Thankfully, some 12 months ago, a group of area physicians, ministers, county officials and community leaders presented the idea of a free health clinic at a town hall meeting held in Alabaster. This Thursday, their dream will be realized with the opening of Shelby County’s first and only free health clinic.

Such a dramatic accomplishment in such a short time does not happen by the hands of a few. The health department has donated space for the clinic, faith and community groups have committed money and now volunteers plan to donate time, all with the same goal in mind — providing free health care to uninsured residents of Shelby County.

Initially, organizers plan to open the doors of the clinic one day a week at the Shelby County Health Department in Pelham.

One hundred volunteers have already stepped forward to help make the clinic a success, but more will be needed in the months and years ahead. Among those volunteering their time and expertise are area physicians, and among them are specialists in their field who will treat even the most challenging of diagnoses.

We can be surprised by the immensity of the need for free healthcare in Shelby County but there is no surprise in the unselfish response our community, its churches and its leaders have made in addressing it.