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Church to open free medical

By Robin Y. Richardson Marshall News Messenger
March 30, 2011 at 8:46 a.m.

Starting Wednesday, April 6, Central Baptist Church, 106 E. Fannin St., will open a free, faith-based medical clinic to cater to both physical and spiritual needs.

"Our mission is to serve the needy of Harrison County and to spread the gospel," said Dr. Doug Duncan, a local orthopedic surgeon and member of the church's steering committee that is spearheading the clinic.

The clinic will be open every first and third Wednesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. A licensed nurse, doctor and volunteer staff will be on duty. Service will be rendered by appointment only.

"We're going to be very intentional about spreading the gospel as well as helping their medical needs," said Duncan.

The clinic will operate off the Bible verse Luke 10:27 - "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself."

The target group the clinic will serve will be those who are employed, but uninsured and can't afford to see a doctor.

"Say they have a chronic medical condition like high blood pressure or diabetes (for instance), it is an effort to get their medicines and to make ends meet, basically," said Duncan, giving an example of people who may benefit from the services offered. "So, that will be our target group because the ones that are on Medicaid, they have access to doctors and medicine, but this will be kind of the in-between (group) who are paying for it themselves, and it's hard for them to do it."

Duncan said starting out, treatments will be limited to conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.

"They're all kind of similar - things that are chronic conditions that are ongoing that they are going to continually need medication for," said Duncan. "That's what we're going to kind of help them do - keep that under control."

He said the goal is to try to keep patients with those types of illnesses as healthy as possible as well as share the gospel.

Duncan's wife Renee Duncan, who serves as a chaplain at Good Shepherd Medical Center, will head the spiritual counseling aspect of the clinic.

"Everyone's going to be asked can we pray for your needs or anything like that," said Duncan. "We're going to be intentional, so they'll know why we're doing this.

"We're not doing this for a pat on the back," he said. "It is because God tells us it is what we're supposed to do, so hopefully they'll see the love in this."

Duncan said the church's pastor, Wallace Watkins, brought the idea of a free faith-based medical clinic to the church after serving as interim pastor at a church in Hope, Ark., that had been operating a similar clinic for the past 15 years.

"He said, 'Hey, do you think we can do something like this,'" Duncan recalled. "I said, 'I guess we could so let's just ride up there and look at it.'"

After checking it out, the congregation prayed about the idea to determine if it was something they could be able to offer at Central Baptist, Duncan said

"We prayed a lot about it, "Duncan recounted, sharing that he took into consideration that the clinic would be treating conditions that he doesn't specialize in. He knew he'd have to recruit doctors to help.

Once the congregation gave their approval to move forward with the idea, a steering committee was appointed to gather research and more ideas about opening a clinic.

"There's kind of a clinic in Longview like this at Alpine Church of Christ, so we went over there and kind of picked their brain a little bit and watched them kind of do it," said Duncan. "Once we gathered enough information and prayed enough about it, we decided, 'Hey, we can probably do this.'"

"It's all volunteer (work) and we have no budget or anything," said Duncan. "We're going to try to do this kind of as it arises.

"We'll see how it works," he continued. "If it's meant to be by God, it's going to work out. If it's not, it's not."

Duncan said they've had a few practice sessions to prepare them for the anticipated opening.

"We'll see some folks next week, hopefully," said Duncan.

Ms. Duncan said their overall hope; however, is "that this whole thing will glorify Jesus."

For more information about appointments and qualifications for service, call 903-407-1008 or 903-935-9391.



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