The Good Samaritan Clinic
The Good Samaritan Clinic, which is located at 450 Lang St., offers health care to anyone who doesn't have insurance and is open on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m.
Good Samaritan is run entirely by volunteers and offers services such as blood sugar monitoring, non-narcotic prescription refills, urinalysis, counseling and answers to general health care questions and concerns.
Clinic Director Debbie Riggs recalled what caused Good Samaritan to open its doors.
"Dr. Ron Coleman, a local surgeon that is now retired, started the clinic over twenty-five years ago. He saw a need in our community for people without insurance to get medical care," Riggs said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 23.8 percent of Cleveland, Tennessee residents live below the poverty level as of 2012. This compared to 17.3 percent statewide and 14.9 percent nationally illustrates the need for Cleveland residents to have access to affordable health care.
Good Samaritan has moved several times over the course of its existence. Although its original location was in the housing authority, it also moved into the health department as well as different houses residing across from Lee's School of Religion. Finally, it found its new home next to Cross Pointe Church of God in Cleveland.
Volunteer Coordinator Vi Huynh, senior pre-med biology student, described the process in which they see new patients.
"When a patient first comes in, they will come and sign in. If they haven't been here before, they will come and fill out a new intake form .... It's a first come first serve kind of thing. Usually our limit [of patients] is twelve, but we do take more," Huynh said.
Once seated in the waiting room, the patients wait for a volunteer to call their name. Once their name is called, the patients follow a volunteer to a table set up in the back of the room and are asked a series of questions about how they are feeling and the nature of their complaint.
Kristen Holst, junior pre-med biology student and Good Samaritan volunteer since May, said that along with these questions, the patient's blood pressure and blood glucose [in the case of a diabetic patient] will also be taken. All of that information will then be given to the doctor when he arrives to examine the patients.
Dr. William Hays, who is a Family Practice Physician in Cleveland, discussed why he got involved with Good Samaritan.
"To those much has been given, much is expected. There is a huge need in the community for people to be taken care of. Sometimes these people don't have insurance or government coverage, and going to the doctor is difficult for a lot of these people," Hays said.
Courtney, a clinic patient who had just recently lost her insurance, expressed her need for affordable health care.
"[Good Samaritan] helps me out personally so I won't have to go to the hospital and receive those large bills ... instead of wasting the time at the hospital with me not having any insurance ... It's just way too expensive for me to get it [insurance] now, so this is a big help," Courtney said.
She was unable to afford health insurance after her employer, The Department of Family and Children's Services, stopped providing health insurance in lieu of allowing workers to receive health insurance through The Affordable Health Care Act, which took effect on January 1, 2014.
According to medicaid.gov, The Affordable Care Act refers to two separate pieces of legislation: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. From conception, these two pieces of legislation were put into effect in an effort to expand Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income Americans and makes improvements to both Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Although these new laws have been implemented, Holst said that she's seen the impact of what access to health care can do first hand.
"Some people come in [to the clinic] and they're so preoccupied with how they're doing because of the other people in their life," Holst said. "[Health care] totally affects emotional health, spiritual health, mental health'I mean [it affects] everything."
By volunteering at Good Samaritan, students like Huynh and Holst are able to put what Lee teaches into practice.
"As I came here more, I fell in love with it and now I changed from pre-dental to pre-med because I want to be a family doctor," Huynh said. "Coming here ... it opened my eyes to a whole different type of community. Volunteering here and going to Guatemala and doing medical missions there definitely [makes me] want to do missions ... God wants us to help people an he calls every one of us to do a certain thing, and I'm pretty sure he led me here to change my heart."
Its this 'call" that many volunteers answer when they come to Good Samaritan each week. And with each week, Good Samaritan volunteers utilize their strengths in patient care and leave a legacy of compassion for the community they serve.