Health Care? No Debate for Salem (OR) Church

Post a Comment » Written on November 25th, 2009     
Filed under: News
By Rick Lund

SALEM, OR (November 25, 2009) – For all the debate in this country over health care, there is no ambiguity about the issue at Trinity Covenant Church.

The neighbors need health care. And they now can get it – for free.

The church is now providing a free medical clinic one Saturday per month – the program launched November 14. Fifty-five volunteers from Trinity and two neighboring churches offered to help.

Trinity Covenant has been actively involved in the south Salem community for years. Church members have volunteered for Habit for Humanity, a homeless ministry, and the Community Corner after-school program at an elementary school across the street from the church.

But the majority of those ministries are community wide. The Trinity congregation decided to cast a closer eye to its neighbors – or the people, as Pastor Chris Haydon puts it, “we could stand on the church property and hit with a rock.” You didn’t have to possess a major-league pitcher’s arm to reach people in need.

The parents and guardians of the Community Corner kids were asked what more Trinity could do to help them.

The answer: Medical care.

“We had lots of people involved in the community, but not necessarily in our neighborhood,” said Haydon. “We have this incredible facility. We decided we could open our church and do a free medical program.”

Two Trinity members have taken leadership positions. Dr. Andy Harris, a retired physician, will be the medical director. Keeta Lauderdale, long known in Salem for helping organizations who help people, is the clinic coordinator.

All but 12 of the 55 volunteers are from Trinity. The remaining helpers are from Our Savior’s Lutheran and Westminister Presbyterian churches. The three churches have choirs who occasionally sing together, so church members are excited about working together at the clinic.

The clinic received a $7,500 Churches Planting Ministries seed grant from the Evangelical Covenant Church to help with start-up costs as well as $3,500 from the church’s Commission on Children and Families, provided by an anonymous donor.

The clinic will not draw any funds from Trinity’s operating budget and will use only minimal staff time.

Lauderdale spent the past several months screening applicants in preparation for the opening. While doctors and nurses with active licenses still are needed, also needed are volunteers to serve as interpreters, social workers, greeters, sandwich makers and members of crews to help set up and clean up.

Lauderdale is also gathering medical equipment and supplies, such as exam tables, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, ophthalmoscopes, otoscopes and reflex hammers.

Who will visit the clinic and their medical needs remains to be seen. But the following is printed on every clinic piece of paper: The Salem Free Medical Clinic exists to provide quality health care at no cost to the poor, the uninsured, and the underinsured children and adults in our community as an expression of Christ’s love.

“While we know our Community Corner families will be interested in the clinic’s services, we do not yet know who else will visit us,” Lauderdale said. “Our church neighborhood includes many subsidized apartments and manufactured homes, and we want very much to welcome the entire neighborhood and beyond.

“The visitors will receive medical services, lunch, child care, prayer if they choose, and most importantly our friendship and love as an expression of Christ’s love.”

While the clinic at the outset will be open one Saturday per month, it is Haydon’s hope that if things go well, it could be open twice a month beginning in January or February.

Health care? No debate here.

Editor’s note: Rick Lund serves as news editor for the North Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

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