Will­ing helpers

Min­istry helps the needy with health costs

The Covington News - - Religion - By Colleen Capes Jack­son

The Will­ing Helpers Med­i­cal Clinic is a min­istry of Solid Rock Bap­tist Church, lo­cated at 8111 Brown Bridge Road. The clinic opened in Oc­to­ber 2006 as a non profit ef­fort of lo­cal med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als seek­ing to im­prove the health of ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 unin­sured peo­ple in New­ton County. The med­i­cal di­rec­tor is Dr. Ti­mothy Park, MD, and the clinic di­rec­tor is Ed Jenk­ins. RPH. Nurs­ing co-direc­tors are Dorothy Robin­son, RN, and Yol­unda Gold­ston, RN.

The mis­sion state­ment of Will­ing Helpers Med­i­cal Clinic is to serve as a health­care provider for in­di­gent, home­less and work­ing poor who have no in­sur­ance and are un­able to pay med­i­cal ser­vices.

Funded by con­tri­bu­tions, do­na­tions and grants from na­tional, state, and lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, clin­i­cal ser­vices are pro­vided at no cost to those who qual­ify. The Ge­or­gia Vol­un­teer Health Care Pro­gram en­acted in 2005 is used as a guide­line, and el­i­gi­ble pa­tient cri­te­ria is the source of pa­tient el­i­gi­bil­ity.

In Jan­uary 2006, the Rev. Mike Franklin, pas­tor of Solid Rock Bap­tist Church, with re­tired phar­ma­cist Ed Jenk­ins and sev­eral other mem­bers of Solid Rock Bap­tist Church vis­ited a free clinic at Lees­burg First Bap­tist Church, Lees­burg, Fla., which had been in ex­is­tence for ap­prox­i­mately 20 years. Lo­cated on four acres, they op­er­ated a clinic, two home­less shel­ters, a women’s cri­sis cen­ter, a food pantry, a cloth­ing store, a furniture out­let and two fos­ter homes — one for long term and one for a safe house. The group re­turned with a vi­sion to model a sim­i­lar op­er­a­tion on Solid Rock’s 26-acre grounds. Sev­eral vis­its were made to other free or in­di­gent care clin­ics in the greater At­lanta area with the pur­pose of gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion.

A needs as­sess­ment was done in the New­ton County area with de­mo­graph­ics in the ar­eas of pop­u­la­tion, oc­cu­pa­tion, ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment, med­i­cal in­sur­ance and in­come.

With the help of Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity School of Nurs­ing, New­ton, Rock­dale and Gwin­nett county health de­part­ments and var­i­ous other lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, a plan was de­vel­oped to open a free clinic on the grounds of Solid Rock Bap­tist Church. Jenk­ins said he net­works with 15 free clin­ics in the At­lanta area that meet as a group and dis­cuss is­sues.

Al­ready booked into March, the clinic sees an av­er­age of 30-40 pa­tients who are 12 years and older on Thurs­days only from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Those seek­ing ap­point­ments may call on Tues­day, Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day from 9 a.m. to noon. Ser­vices in­clude non-emer­gency care, ba­sic lab­o­ra­tory test­ing, EKG, Chris­tian sup­port and re­fer­rals to health de­part­ment and other par­tic­i­pat­ing providers. Reg­is­tered nurses, spe­cial­ists and di­eti­cians vol­un­teer their time to teach cour­ses on top­ics such as di­a­betes and smok­ing ces­sa­tion.

“Of the 1,100 peo­ple we saw our first year, most were di­a­bet­ics and peo­ple with high blood pres­sure,” said clinic di­rec­tor Ed Jenk­ins. “Peo­ple come here and leave to­tally amazed. When you can see 30 to 40 peo­ple in three hours and it runs so smoothly, you know it is God. It is a bless­ing

to see God do this and we are here strictly to do his work.”

Solid Rock helps to fund the clinic and pro­vides the build­ing space which is shared by youth on an­other night. Pa­tients come into the wait­ing area un­til the nurses are ready to do their med­i­cal screen­ing. Lab work and res­pi­ra­tory ther­apy are avail­able if needed. Af­ter the pa­tient sees the doc­tor, they go to dis­charge. Be­fore the pa­tient ex­its, there are six prayer coun­selors sit­ting at the ta­ble who ask if they would like prayer be­fore they leave.

“One out of 20 turns down the in­vi­ta­tion to pray, said Jenk­ins. “Our coun­selors are there to talk, pray or cry with them.”

Betty Henderson, who re­tired from CR Bard af­ter 25 years is of­fice man­ager and main­tains the con­fi­den­tial­ity of pa­tient files.

“Once you get in­volved and see what a bless­ing it is, you can’t leave it and want to do more,” said Henderson.

Ac­cord­ing to Jenk­ins, the av­er­age pa­tient is around 40 years old and in­cludes con­struc­tion work­ers, peo­ple who have lost their jobs and the dis­abled who have not been ap­proved for dis­abil­ity.

“We have had quite a few pa­tients di­ag­nosed with can­cer,” said Jenk­ins. “Right af­ter Christ­mas, we had a lady come in with an ir­reg­u­lar EKG and we sent her to a car­di­ol­o­gist and they did open heart surgery. With­out it, she would not have sur­vived.”

Walk­ers, wheel chairs, crutches and walk­ing canes were do­nated from or­ga­ni­za­tions around the At­lanta area. A lo­cal physi­cian do­nated a $6,000 EKG ma­chine. New­ton Med­i­cal par­tic­i­pates by pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance with tests and ex­ams.

The clinic has two doc­tors’ of­fices and ex­am­i­na­tion rooms with a staff of eight doc­tors, two physi­cian as­sis­tants, three nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, 25 nurses, a res­pi­ra­tory ther­a­pist, an EKG tech­ni­cian and ap­prox­i­mately 50 non-li­censed vol­un­teers who serve on a ro­tat­ing sched­ule and con­trib­uted over a half mil­lion dol­lars worth in labs and man hours last year.

Af­ter com­plet­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion and a back­ground check, vol­un­teers must be ap­proved by the state and trained be­fore they can work at the Will­ing Helpers Med­i­cal Clinic. All work­ers serve un­der the Vol­un­teer Med­i­cal Act signed into law on May 10, 2005 and the Vol­un­teer Pro­tec­tion Act of 1997.

“Ge­or­gia State is send­ing out stu­dent nurses this week,” said Jenk­ins. “Ox­ford Col­lege is very sup­port­ive and some of the fac­ulty has made do­na­tions to the clinic.”

Ed Jenk­ins grad­u­ated from the Mercer School of Phar­macy and op­er­ated Pend­ley Hills Phar­macy in Decatur for 15 years be­fore mov­ing to Cov­ing­ton. Re­tired from New­ton Med­i­cal in 2004, he has four chil­dren, eight grand­chil­dren and four great-grand­chil­dren.

“This is some­thing that I have al­ways wanted to give back be­cause medicine has been good to me over the years,” said Jenk­ins.

The next goal for the clinic is fi­nan­cial as they pro­pose a plan to build a 2,500- to 3,000- square- foot build­ing. The doc­tors are in the process of iden­ti­fy­ing what they want in terms of a build­ing.

“Our board met last week and voted to start a build­ing fund,” said the di­rec­tor. “The an­tic­i­pated cost to build a new clinic is be­tween $ 300,000 and $500,000. If it is God’s will, it will hap­pen. I found this church to be a giv­ing church that wants to help peo­ple rather than have a fancy church build­ing. They have a pride in serv­ing God’s peo­ple.”

Do­na­tions can be made to the Will­ing Helpers Med­i­cal Clinic. For more in­for­ma­tion, call (770) 784-0865.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Pa­per work: Will­ing Helpers Med­i­cal Clinic Di­rec­tor Ed Jenk­ins, left, and vol­un­teer Pat Card­well sort and pre­pare med­i­cal files for pa­tients who have ap­point­ments for Thurs­day evening’s free med­i­cal clinic held at Solid Rock Bap­tist Church.

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