Our mission is to be a place of healing, where Christian principles of compassionate service meet the medical, social, and mental health needs of those persons in the Mississippi Gulf Coast community who are uninsured or underinsured. Where care and compassion, not money are the medium of exchange. Where those who serve have the opportunity to receive, in blessings, as much as they give.
The Bethel Free Health Clinic, Inc. began in response to the dire need for health care immediately following Hurricane Katrina. One of the first volunteers to arrive at Bethel Lutheran Church was Cassie Brown from Northern Virginia. She was the first nurse to respond to the needs of the Katrina survivors at Bethel Lutheran Church.
The clinic provided care for those injured during the storm and those injured while trying to salvage their homes and belongings. Then the clinic treated those who suffered from the living conditions left by the storm - living out in the elements, living with black mold, etc. Then the clinic began treating the chronic illnesses. This because many reported not being able to locate their physicians and others reported not being able to get an appointment. With the loss of jobs and subsequent health insurance as well as the strained finances to replace items lost during the storm, many are in need of help with treatment and/or costly medications.
When Bethel opened their doors to the community following Hurricane Katrina, we didn’t anticipate the on-going needs of the uninsured and underinsured.
The need for free medical services continues as many Coast residents still suffer gross socioeconomic hardships caused by widespread destruction of this storm.
For two and one-half years Bethel Lutheran Church provided a home for the Bethel Free Health Clinic. This church allowed their library, nursery, narthex and hallways to be used as a doctor’s office, waiting room, exam room and a dispensary.
Our clinic was staffed with volunteer physicians and nurses who obtained temporary licenses through the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure and the Mississippi Board of Nursing. Because of the number of professionals willing to give of their time, talents, and skills, our clinic was open five days a week, 7-8 hours per day.
When Governor Haley Barbour did not renew the state of emergency on January 11, 2008, Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure stopped issuing temporary licenses for physicians. Several local physicians responded to the call to volunteer in our clinic.
Our patients are Coastal residents who are uninsured or underinsured without financial resources to pay for medical care, medications, and/or medical supplies with post-disaster financial burdens. These low income and working poor continue to struggle to bring their lives and healthcare to pre-Katrina status. Because these needs are so strong, the Bethel Free Health Clinic, Inc. continues to offer free health care services to the Mississippi Gulf Coast community.
Through 2011, with the help of “at least” 687 providers, 2180 nurses, 198 student nurses and 2405 volunteers with other skills, our clinic has provided treatment for “at least” 31,898 clinic visits. “At least” is used because before we had a Clinic Director, clinic records were not routinely kept.
In July 2008, the clinic moved from the Bethel Lutheran Church location, so the congregation could resume use of their space for worship and fellowship.
The Biloxi Housing Authority offered the long term lease of space at its 1650 Carrol Drive location. We submitted a grant request and received funding from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to renovate and add on to this space so that we can optimally serve our community. Fuller Center ReBuilders (formerly Project REHAB), from the Bethel Volunteer Ministry provided volunteer construction manpower.
The Waiting Area
Orientation for Volunteers
Dr. David Clippinger serves as our Medical Director, and is responsible for the medical oversight of our clinic. Judith Jones RN, MN serves as our Executive Director, and is responsible for the management of the daily operations of the clinic. Together, they develop and implement programs to improve the quality and efficiency of care provided by our volunteer medical staff.
We have a Board of Directors who determines the mission for the clinic and provides the strategic, operational, and programmatic plans and policies to achieve the mission. Our Board includes:
Mr. Pete Berlowitz, President
Vacant, Vice President
Ms. Donna Tasker, Treasurer
Pastor Barbara Hunter, Secretary
Mrs. Penny Bise
Dr. David Clippinger
Mrs. Dorothy Fox
Ms. JoAnn Humphries
Ms. Judith Jones
Ms. Rebecca Kershaw
Ms. Alyce Leard
Dr. Earl Malone
Mr. John Stone
Our clinic is funded exclusively through donations, grants, special events and donated goods and services.
We have two paid full time staff members. All of our other staff members are volunteers!
COVENANT SQUARE LOCATION
The Waiting Area
The Exam Room
BETHEL LUTHERAN CHURCH LOCATION
The Exam Room