I Visited Hope Health Clinic
In this series, we're visiting Southeast's Mission Partners to understand their vision and how God is using them in the community.
By Carla Williams
If I didn’t have health insurance, what would I do when I needed basic healthcare? Or if I had insurance, but my low income and high premiums made routine medical visits unthinkable, where could I go? How would I get labs, medicines, and referrals? Would I still receive quality care?
These questions are not hypothetical for thousands of people in and around Oldham, Henry, Trimble, Carroll and eastern Jefferson Counties. Fortunately, there’s Hope Health Clinic. I couldn’t wait to spend a day learning from them at their facility in La Grange, Kentucky.
I was greeted in the waiting room by Janet, the Director of Hope Health Clinic. Years ago, Janet worked at Southeast. While she was serving in the Missions ministry, God very clearly invited her to join what He was doing through Hope Health Clinic. Even though it was an overwhelming task, she has seen Him accomplish more than she ever could have done on her own. He has blessed the clinic, and He has equipped and sustained her as its leader.
While we talked, Janet explained the history and services of Hope, as well as the overwhelming need for affordable, quality healthcare in the area. She challenged the misconceptions many have about Oldham County and the patients they treat. While many in the county enjoy a healthy lifestyle and financial security, there is a growing population of underserved people without reliable access to care.
For more and more people, though they’re working full-time jobs and doing their best to manage their finances, security is out of reach and healthcare seems unobtainable. Many of these people are finding relief and care at Hope Health Clinic.
For just $15 a visit, patients at Hope can get their primary care needs met with a qualified, professional, caring staff. Janet and her team have worked tirelessly over the years to secure medical grants and partnerships so that costs can stay low, even for labs and medicines. They also function with a tiny staff and an army of dedicated and faithful volunteers, creating even more margin for patient care.
The patients at Hope are the highest priority. Their income doesn’t matter. Their social status is irrelevant. As the image-bearers and creations of God, nothing is more important than each patient’s holistic care—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Each patient is offered 30 full minutes with a care provider, which is almost unheard of in the industry. The provider does his or her best to treat the whole person and not just the specific symptoms of that day. They pray for their patients, laugh with them, cry with them when needed, and give honest medical assessments for their growth and health.
After gaining all the necessary permissions, I even sat in with a patient during her exam. While a volunteer checked her vitals, they talked casually like old friends. They laughed together and encouraged one another effortlessly, and it was immediately clear to me that something special happens at Hope Health Clinic. There was none of the normal rush or awkward formality that I’ve always experienced at even my best healthcare experiences.
Soon, the primary care provider came into the exam room. She sat and listened carefully to her patient. She asked thorough, gentle questions. And she treated her patient so kindly, so humbly, that I immediately thought of Jesus carefully and quietly washing the feet of His disciples. That provider demonstrated one of the most tangible examples of Jesus’ servant-like heart that I have ever experienced, and I was left in awe.
Each person who walked into Hope Health Clinic that day was treated with the same dignity and kindness. From the patient who stopped at the reception window to tease the volunteers to the Spanish-speaking woman who needed help filling out her referral forms, each individual was loved, valued, and known.
Hope Health Clinic might be a low-income primary care provider, but there’s nothing second-rate about the patient care. It was easily the most patient-driven healthcare experience I’ve ever encountered.
Carried by Volunteers
I quickly realized that none of the ministry of Hope Health Clinic would be possible without the impressive team of volunteers they’ve managed to recruit. Hope’s paid staff includes just four people. In addition to Janet, there’s only a development specialist, a nurse practitioner, and a nurse. Most of those roles are part-time. Yet the clinic is open four days a week, with extended evening hours a couple days a week. Obviously those four people couldn’t sustain that load.
That’s where Hope Health Clinic’s 30 volunteers come in. With a variety of medical professionals and clerical volunteers, these faithful men and women invest in the clinic and its patients as if it’s their full-time job. They come in the same shifts each week to check patients in and out, file, translate, stock shelves, and treat patients. Some of these volunteers have been eagerly serving the same shifts since the clinic first opened.
All of the medical volunteers have current licenses and are insured to practice. They are quality healthcare professionals who could undoubtedly be paid for the time they volunteer instead. But they come and serve because they believe in the value of what Hope Health Clinic provides.
Many of the volunteers are retired. I met a man who served as a Spanish teacher in schools for 30 years. Now he’s been retired for more than 20 years, but he’s a local associate pastor and volunteers at Hope Health Clinic at least two days a week as a Spanish translator. He had no idea that his early life would lead to such a fruitful and fulfilling season of very intentional ministry.
Janet talks about her volunteers with almost a sense of awe. She knows that Hope Health Clinic literally exists because of the selfless men and women who commit to being there week in and week out. She trusts them and she relies on them, and they certainly do not disappoint her. Even though they represent many different denominations and churches, she loves the unity of Christ that they all have in common. They’re all there because God called them to serve the marginalized in the community, and they faithfully obeyed.
While the weekly team of volunteers is meeting the everyday patient needs at the clinic, Janet has had a harder time securing work groups to tackle some of their cosmetic needs. She mentioned that she’d love a team of six or seven eager and willing volunteers who could tackle some of their basic facility updates, like painting and installing trim along the walls. When most of your volunteers are retired, it gets a lot harder to do projects on the floor!
A Vital Role
The medical world is volatile and confusing these days. Insurance changes regularly, fewer and fewer practices are taking new patients, state and federal funding is constantly fluctuating, and standards for treatment are constantly being evaluated. It’s a mess even in the best scenarios. But when you add a serious lack of access to affordable healthcare, it gets downright overwhelming.
In light of all this confusion, I’m so thankful for the day I spent with Hope Health Clinic. Their commitment to the patients comes through in each thing they do. In the course of one day, I saw quality medical care, nurses fighting tirelessly to help their patients process paperwork for additional aid, a delivery of Bibles to be distributed from the clinic, a team of volunteers who work seamlessly together, and the grace of Christ revealed through humble, holistic care.
In the face of incomprehensible need, one small clinic in La Grange is showing up in huge ways for the most vulnerable families in their community. In an otherwise desperate situation, it was undeniable how necessary it is for one simple ray of Hope.
To learn more or get involved, visit hopehealthclinicky.com.