March of 2012 marked an important milestone for PSCC and the Edmonds community – our Mobile Medical Clinic, affectionately called ‘HOPE’, began providing free basic health care services to low-income and uninsured individuals and families at Edmonds United Methodist Church (EUMC).
What a blessing – EUMC is already home to a local food bank, which serves struggling neighbors on Tuesdays. Because our MMC also operates on Tuesdays, we have been well positioned to build meaningful connections with those who need our help.
We’re thankful to continue making a difference in Edmonds, but we haven’t done it alone! Key community partners have joined with us to make these vital services available – especially the Verdant Health Commission, which has invested $75,000 per year for the next 2 years.
Verdant invests in community programs and empowers people to choose a healthy lifestyle,collaborating with local organizations on innovative health and wellness programs in South Snohomish. PSCC’s MMC program was chosen because it fits well with Verdant’s vision of improving access to healthcare for the uninsured living within the community.
Six local churches are giving $100 per month to help sustain our efforts in Edmonds, and an amazing team of volunteers remains committed to caring for patients each Tuesday. But, more help is needed to continue growing this program! To learn how you can help, please contact Lynn Heitritter, Edmonds Site Coordinator, at 425-778-2119.
Last week, the Supreme Court announced the long-awaited decision on the constitutionality of health care reform. The Justices upheld the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare or Health Care Reform.
What does this mean for a patients served by free clinics like Puget Sound Christian Clinic? That’s a tough question…
Finding answers continues to be challenging because health care reform is still a contentious issue, with supporters and critics on both sides. Even though the Supreme Court upheld the law, it is possible that national leaders elected in November could nullify the law. Further, leaders elected at the state level will influence how the law is implemented locally.
Puget Sound Christian Clinic has established a team of individuals who are studying the issue. We are reading newspapers, journals, and blogs, and talking to lots of people! We’re talking to health care providers, elected officials and candidates for elected positions, hospital administrators, educators, public health experts, our patients and volunteers, other free clinic directors, and more. And we’re asking questions:
Will the patients we see now be able to purchase health insurance through the new insurance exchanges?
Will our patients be able to access health care, even if they do have insurance, with the current shortage in primary care providers? (Did you know only 11% of medical students choose family practice?)
When individuals purchase insurance through the exchanges, will the coverage they can afford give them access to primary and preventive care, or will most have access to care only catastrophic health issues?
Who will fall through the cracks and still not have access to health care? Access to health care could still be challenging; just because someone has an insurance card does not mean he or she can find a doctor who will accept it.
In the midst of all the changes and challenges, how can we improve the quality of care we provide?
How should PSCC change to continue providing quality compassionate health care to those who still in need?
What are the leading candidates’ opinions on health care reform?
How will the health care delivery system change over the next several years?
Historically, free clinics like PSCC have filled the gap for those who could not access health care through the existing safety net. Now free clinics are seen as an important component of this safety net, providing millions of dollars in free care to thousands of patients annually. And there will always be people who fall through the cracks of whatever system is in place.
As the law stands now, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that approximately 27 million people will still be uninsured in 2019, five years after the law is implemented. The need will still be great, and depending on legislative changes that occur nationally and locally, may be greater than anticipated.
The conversations, reading and planning of our Health Care Reform Team will help us determine how to best meet the need in our community as we move towards and beyond 2014 when Health Care Reform is to become effective.
What do you think? How will Health Care Reform impact accessibility to health care for low-income people? And can how PSCC best meet health needs within our community? We’d love to hear from you!
Do you want to make a difference in the health of your community and in the lives of the people you serve? Puget Sound Christian Clinic has an important volunteer opportunity for someone with excellent IT skills. We are seeking IT support for our computer network. You will work closely with PSCC staff and volunteers to improve and maintain our network, empowering volunteers and staff to provide quality compassionate health care to low-income uninsured people.
Specific skills needed for this position include the following:
1. You are familiar with a small office environment
2. You understand the balance between finding the right solution vs. keeping costs low. We need someone who can assess the most important needs and put a reasonable budget for a small nonprofit with limited resources.
3. You are comfortable supporting users who are fairly low tech and able to patiently explain technical ideas and issues in non-technical terms so users can make informed decisions.
1. You have strong skills in troubleshooting and supporting Windows XP and Windows 7 computers in a non-domain environment (including Office 2003/2010). You can set up mapped drives, install applications, install and manage anti-virus applications and Windows updates, and set up and change user accounts.
2. You can manage a Google apps domain
3. You have solid small office networking experience (consumer grade wireless router and unmanaged switches) including CAT5 cabling and a mix of static and dynamic IPs
4. You can manage shared folders on a NAS
5. You have an understanding of Business Class Comcast Cable Internet service
6. You can set up and support network printers
Desired Technical Skills
1. You are familiar with: Linux (tomcat/mysql/nagios); HIPAA requirements; system and network security, and small office VoIP phone systems.
If this is you, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and discuss your qualifications.
Have you heard? Puget Sound Christian Clinic’ ability to provide free health care is at risk because our volunteer health care professionals may lose their malpractice insurance. Currently, malpractice insurance for volunteers is available through the state, at no cost, for health care professionals who volunteer at organizations that are enrolled in the program. This is known as the Volunteer Retired Provider Program, or VRPP.
PSCC is the largest user of the program in the state of Washington with over 90 volunteer health care professionals actively enrolled! We estimate that if VRPP is eliminated, 60-70 of our volunteers will need to resign because they will not have malpractice insurance. Clearly, we will have to reduce clinic hours if that happens!
PSCC is not the only free clinic in the state that will be impacted if VRPP is eliminated however. There are almost 40 free clinics in Washington and together, we provide approximately 90,000 patient visits annually for low-income uninsured individuals and families.
The prospect of the state cutting the VRPP is especially frightening when we realize that in addition to the thousands of people last year who lost state-funded health coverage, and the 30,000 who lost Medicaid or Basic Health this year, even more cuts are probable! Washington’s Basic Health and Children’s Health Insurance Programs are on the list of programs to be cut or eliminated. The safety net is shrinking!
So if the State cuts VRPP, where will our low-income and uninsured neighbors go to receive the health care that they need?
We’ve all heard that the projected state budget deficit is billions of dollars. The VRPP costs less than $150,000 per year. Yet, it saves millions of dollars in health care costs that otherwise would be absorbed by hospitals and an already overburdened health care system.
We need your help! Our patients need your voice! Would you contact your legislators and Governor Gregoire to urge them to continue funding for the state’s Volunteer Retired Provider Program?
Here’s a link to a letter you can use as a sample to write your own…or just personalize this one.
If you need help locating your legislators contact information, click here.
As I read this passage, I was reminded that we need to hear about the marvelous stuff God does! As the Executive Director at PSCC I have a front row seat and see God do His marvels daily. One of them is right outside my door: a beautiful 40-foot mobile medical clinic named “HOPE.” Have you heard how she came to be here?
In an amazing way, God orchestrated getting the vehicle to us. One spring morning more than a year ago, I received an email advertising a mobile medical clinic for sale from the manufacturer in Ohio. It was 10 years old with 17,000 miles. The price: $25,000.
That had to be a typo, right? New vehicles like HOPE are typically $250,000-$500,000! I called immediately to ask for the correct price. It WAS the correct price. The representative explained that since it was used, they could not hold it. The first person to arrive, with check it hand, would get the vehicle.
We wasted no time! Early the next morning, a volunteer and I were on a plane, flying to Ohio. God even arranged thunderstorms for us. Due to the weather, flights were delayed for several hours in Chicago. It was the perfect time for me to call each PSCC board member, tell them of the situation, and make sure we were all in agreement. I was even able to call a mechanic in Ohio to arrange to get the vehicle checked over. By the time I finished all the phone calls, the storms had subsided and we were able to board our last flight, arriving in Ohio about midnight.
Morning came quickly, but I was too excited to feel tired. We arrived at the manufacturer and in no time were on board a beautiful mobile medical clinic. The floor plan was almost identical to what we had mapped out as the best layout for the patients we would serve. We toured the factory and saw how the vehicles were put together. By early afternoon, we were ready to make the purchase. I handed over that check representing gifts from so many of you, and the vehicfle was ours!
That summer, the manufacturer made minor changes in the floor plan and added the graphic design. By July, HOPE was ready for her cross-country trip to Seattle. She arrived July 29, 2010, God’s miracle and gift to the people of Puget Sound.
Since then, several churches have come forward to partner with us to provide health care to low-income people who do not have health insurance. More than 400 volunteers have joined our volunteer corps.
Primary health care is being provided in Snohomish, Bothell/Kirkland, Bellevue, Shoreline, and soon—Edmonds!
But the need is great! Did you know that more than 30,000 low-income Washingtonians lost Medicaid coverage this year? We’ve all heard about the proposed state budget cuts. Washingtonians in need may lose the state’s Basic Health Plan, Children’s Health Insurance Plan, Maternity Support Services, and more…
While it’s too soon to know which programs will actually be eliminated, we know that some will, at a time when so many have lost jobs and insurance. The need continues to increase.
God, because he knows the future, has provided a beautiful tool in HOPE, our mobile medical clinic. It is available to serve so many who need health care. But we need you! This is a big job, one that requires God’s people to work together and with others in the community. Can you help?
We’d love to hear from you if you have ideas or want to join with us, helping meet physical, emotional and spiritual needs of so many who cannot afford health care. Share your thoughts here or send me an email at email@example.com.
God has given a wonderful gift in our new Volunteer Program Manager, Jalle Gebisa. Jalle began her time at PSCC on August 1. She comes to us from West Lafayette, Indiana, bringing experience in managing volunteers in a nonprofit setting in Washington, D.C. and through the Peace Corps in Zambia. She has also volunteered in a clinic similar to Puget Sound Christian Clinic. Best of all, she loves people; I know she will love the PSCC family as well.
Jalle’s role at PSCC will be somewhat different than our Volunteer Program Manager’s role has been historically. Over the past several months, it became clear that the many responsibilities included in the Volunteer Program Manager’s job description were too numerous for one person supporting even five sites, and we anticipate having ten sites. Therefore, we have revised the role of the Volunteer Program Manager. Some of the responsibilities within the role have shifted to our medical staff; others are being assumed by volunteers. We also plan to add 1-2 staff members over the next 18 months. Jalle will be working with our volunteers to learn how we did things in the past so that she can train others to take on some of those responsibilities.
As you have opportunity to meet Jalle, please join me in welcoming her! I’m sure that you will enjoy her as much as I do.
PSCC staff were privileged to attend the recent national conference of Christian Community Health Fellowship (CCHF). The mission of CCHF is to encourage, educate and equip Christians to live out the gospel through health care among marginalized communities.
We were educated and equipped as we attended workshops on providing medical, dental, and counseling services for low-income patients. We heard and shared stories with others across the country who, like us, share the love of Christ through the health care they provide. We were blessed and encouraged because God is at work!
One of my favorite passages came up over and over again: Philippians 3:10-11: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
It’s a favorite because I do want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection! Yet as I heard stories, I realized I had not considered what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ. My understanding increased as I heard stories from our speakers.
Kelly*, an executive director of a clinic on the east coast, shared that God had called her to move into the community where her clinic is located. Her patients became her neighbors…and her friends. The neighborhood kids were the first to welcome her. She loved the kids, and through them, came to know and love their parents.
In this neighborhood, shootings and other violent crimes are daily occurrences. One day, one of her teen friends was shot; Kelly’s youngest friends saw the shooting. She was deeply grieved, both because she lost a friend and because her young friends and their parents suffered pain through this incident. Kelly suffered along with her neighbors, and she grew in her understanding of what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ.
Kathy* is a family doctor who took a job at an inner city clinic in Los Angeles. As she cared for her patients, she heard their stories. One young mom went through a painful divorce, and Kathy walked with her through that journey. Another died of a chronic treatable disease, and would have lived if care had been available sooner. She understood in a new way that she, as a doctor, could not heal her patients. Their needs were huge and encompassed much more than physical healing. She prayed with her patients, acknowledging that only God was sufficient in the midst of suffering. Because Kathy loved her patients and their families, she felt their pain. In a new way, she understood what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ.
Though both Kelly and Kathy shared in the pain of their neighbors and patients, they would not have traded the calling that God gave them for anything! Although they had made sacrifices to obey God, I could tell from their faces that they had experienced joy in the suffering. Their experiences remind me of Matthew 19:29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
As I reflected on these women’s experiences, it seems that when we love others in the way of Jesus, and consequently share in the pain of those we love, we are sharing in Christ’s sufferings.
Of course, I had to ask: “Have I ever shared in Christ’s sufferings?” Yes…at least at little!
I shared in his suffering when God brought a baby girl to our home who was exposed to drugs and alcohol during her birth mother’s pregnancy…and when hurting people knock on the door at Puget Sound Christian Clinic looking for dental care, but we cannot provide it because we do not have the resources…and when I see the impact of our broke health care system on our patients’ overall health…
How about you? What are your experiences in sharing in the sufferings of Christ?
Both volunteers and patients were greeted by Steve and Candace,* a husband and wife team serving as our spiritual care volunteer and receptionist. They clearly love one another, as well as each person who came into the clinic! They welcomed everyone: patients, volunteers, and guests. It was exciting, yet a little hectic, with several new volunteers from Puget Sound Christian Clinic to learn the ropes for their site.
It was amazing to hear both patients and volunteers sharing their lives, telling jokes, laughing together, and encouraging one another. Candace and several patients had recently lost jobs, so they shared ideas and encouraged each other in their various job searches. Amanda, a volunteer, eventually joined Candace at the receptionist desk. Even though she didn’t always have answers to patients’ questions, she loved each one and sought out answers from other volunteers for them.
Both patients and volunteers were diverse ethnically and culturally; we had Indians, African Americans, Africans, Hispanics, Russians, and more. I watched in awe as the body of Christ, from all over the world, served patients from all over the world.
John was one patient who shared his story with me. His business completely fell apart with the economic downturn. He’s been diabetic for years, and had received care regularly at the endocrinology clinic where Candace worked. After he lost his job, they helped him as long as they could, even though he couldn’t pay. However, when he could no longer afford the lab tests needed to refill his prescriptions, Candace told him to come to PSCC. That was six months ago. Now, his blood sugar levels are lower than they’ve ever been! How could that be? It is God…He answers when volunteers pray for John. In addition, God uses all the volunteers—the diabetic educator, spiritual care volunteer, the physicians and nurses, and even administrative support volunteers—to support him as he makes lifestyle changes. Volunteers call to see how he’s doing, reaching out to care for John’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs. God is at work in patients’ lives!
One volunteer came to review dental files, but spent more than an hour in a medical exam room serving as a translator for a Russian-speaking patient. He went out of his way to help where needed instead of just working on that one task!
As the evening ended, we had unexpected guests—physical therapists! We’ve been dreaming of adding physical therapy for a year because there are so many patients who need it. The barrier was space for physical therapy, but North Seattle Alliance found space! These physical therapists heard about the space and dropped in to confirm that wanted to serve, and to learn about the patients they’ll serve.
We’d love to have you join us; God is changing lives here at PSCC!
* Names changed to protect patient/volunteer privacy.
Recently, I met Adrianna* at a Bellevue pilot clinic. She’s different from me, but we are sisters because we both love Jesus. In the short time I’ve known her, she’s blessed me as she’s shared her story with me and helped me to understand the day-to-day lives of many people we at PSCC serve.
Several years ago, Adrianna moved to Washington from a communist country to escape persecution because of her Christian beliefs. As a Christian, she was not a member of the communist party. Therefore, she could not apply or be hired for many jobs and she was not allowed to attend certain educational institutions.
Adrianna felt that God was calling her to be a nurse. She managed to get into a school where she could study, but each day, she was summoned to the administrative offices where she was questioned about her beliefs. It was a scary time.
When an opportunity opened to come to the United States, Adrianna and her family decided to leave their home and move to Washington. She and her husband wanted better lives and more opportunities for the children.
That first year was tough for the whole family. Adrianna worked extremely hard. She and her husband had to adjust to a new culture, but did not speak English. They cared for their children and worked night and day to make ends meet. While their kids were at school, the parents were also at school, learning English. As soon as Adrianna’s English was strong enough, she enrolled for classes at a community college to pursue her dream to be a nurse.
Thankfully, the family quickly heard about Jubilee Reach in Bellevue. According to Adrianna, the people at Jubilee Reach cared for the children before and after school while she and her husband worked. Jubilee Reach staff also encouraged Adrianna to keep studying, affirming her ability to learn, be a good wife and mother, and work towards a better life for all of them. Now Adrianna is just months away from finishing her R.N. training.
In addition to being a student, wife, and mother, Adrianna finds time to volunteer! Now she’s excited about serving with PSCC as well, sharing the love of Christ with patients. She can hardly wait for the day when she’ll be able to volunteer as a nurse. In her words, PSCC is a good place for people like her family to receive health care. Often their illnesses are much deeper than physical—they also need to know that Jesus loves them. Adrianna is glad that people who know Jesus will be at the clinic to pray with patients.
As God brings people together at PSCC, He transforms lives…the lives of patients, volunteers, PSCC staff, and all who work together to bring health care to people who cannot otherwise access it.
We’d love to hear how you’ve seen God change lives through interactions with people who come from varying backgrounds and cultures.
*Named changed to protect the family’s privacy
Lord, Puget Sound Christian Clinic is yours. You brought it into being, you’ve cared for it, and you’ve provided all that’s needed to provide health care. You provide because you love people so much! We all are the poor and brokenhearted; we hold a special place in your heart.
When you lived among us, you healed. Now, you’ve called us to care for the sick, especially when they cannot afford to go to the doctor. Sometimes your patients feel so neglected and unloved because of our broken health care system. Sometimes they’ve lost hope.
Now, as we see budget cuts throughout our state, we hear of many who are losing health coverage and have nowhere to turn. In your foreknowledge, grace and mercy, you provided a mobile medical clinic for those who desperately need health care.
Oh God, you are our God. We need you. There is much we need to learn and much work to be done. Would you provide all that is needed to care for the patients you send to the clinic? You know all that we need: volunteers, staff, medical equipment and supplies, wisdom and knowledge, and more. We need things we don’t even know about yet. Please, provide all that is needed at just the right time.
Lord, we ask so that each person who comes may experience your love and know that you are God, and so that you may be glorified.