- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: November 26 2013 November 26 2013
Healthcare has been in the news for months now. Insurance coverage, access to healthcare and multiple debates about the best way to insure the American population have all been topics of discussion. There are multitudes of viewpoints on all of these issues, but one constant is that healthcare is personal and needed for every person. Health is a piece of life many take for granted until it is disrupted. What would you do if you suddenly became ill and did not have access to affordable healthcare?
This is a real concern for many citizens here in Larimer County. According to 2011 data, the estimated rate of uninsured residents in Larimer County was 15.7%. Out of 305,000 Larimer County residents, there were approximately 47,900 uninsured residents. These people face the challenges of how to access the healthcare system and then how to pay for necessary appointments, medications and tests. There is great need for medical assistance in Larimer County. How can we as Christians help serve this population in need in our own community?
Thankfully there are members of the community who are putting their faith into action! The Christ Clinic opened in the fall of 2012 and provides free medical care for the population of northern Colorado. The Christ Clinic is housed in Faith Evangelical Free Church on Monday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00. Patients are seen by appointment only with 14–20 appointments available during each three-hour clinic. The mission of the Christ Clinic is “To follow Jesus by providing spiritual and medical care to members of the Northern Colorado Community who experience hardship in the face of illness due to lack of access to health care.” The mission text comes from Matthew 10:7–8, “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.’”
Christ Clinic accomplishes this mission by providing family medicine services in a non-emergent primary care setting. The goal is to develop patient/clinic relationships so that the clinic becomes the primary care provider. All of the care provided at the clinic is free, regardless of the patient’s insurance status. Most of the patients are uninsured. However, some patients do have insurance but are unable to find primary care providers or are unable to afford copays. All of the care and services at the clinic are provided by volunteers. The 100+ volunteers include doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, chaplains, lab technicians, physical therapists and volunteers in other roles. These volunteers comprise members from nearly twenty area churches. I personally have been blessed to volunteer at the clinic as a nurse, and I have firsthand witnessed the power and need of this clinic.
A unique aspect of the Christ Clinic is that they provide care for the whole person. This includes spiritual and physical care. Spiritual counseling and prayer is offered to all patients by the chaplains. Patients are not required to speak with a chaplain during their visit or discuss their faith, but the majority choose to speak or pray with a chaplain. The goal is to make patients feel valued and cared for. Additionally, Christ Clinic provides information on other community resources that are available. Patients leave knowing that there is a community of resources ready and able to help them in every aspect of their lives.
Christ Clinic provides care to all age groups, including care for families with children, singles, those who are middle-aged and older adults with chronic diseases. The only two areas of primary care that are outside the scope of practice at the clinic are obstetrics and chronic pain management. In addition to seeing a provider while at the clinic, patients can receive lab testing and undergo minor procedures in-house. Lab work that needs to be completed outside of the clinic is completed at affordable costs by using Direct Access Testing or the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP). Medications are prescribed to the patients from the $4/$10 generic formularies through the major pharmacies whenever possible. The Health District of Northern Larimer County provides access to patient assistance for more expensive medications. Christ Clinic continues to expand their repertoire of specialists who are willing to see patient referrals for free.
Thankfully this great service is being utilized. Through June 2013, there were a total of 337 patient visits to the clinic. The saw 201 new patients and completed 136 follow-up appointments. Multitudes of patient diagnoses have been treated, including respiratory illnesses, orthopedic illness, high blood pressure (hypertension), mental health, gastrointestinal illnesses, hypothyroidism, diabetes, injuries, headaches, gynecology, hyperlipidemia and cardiac concerns. The clinic has also performed numerous physical exams (for work or sports).
For more information on the Christ Clinic, please visit their website at www.ChristClinicFC.org or call 481-2390.
“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness”, “mercy”, “loyalty”, “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself”, active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?