Charitable health for individuals and communities

Reflecting on the recent re-emphasis by the United Methodist Church to outlaw gay weddings and clergy gave me an opportunity to recognize the power charitable health to heal individuals and communities.

ECHO’s primary focus is helping people start faith-based charitable clinics that will deliver primary healthcare to people who don’t otherwise have access. Something that happens a lot in Memphis to people who work for Church Health starts when they run an errand in the afternoon, still in their work clothes and ID badge. It’s heartwarming to hear the story every time, every version, of someone at the grocery store approaching the Church Health team member to talk about how we helped their son or daughter, friend, or co-worker.

A nurse practitioner at a clinic we were fortunate to consult to opening with Easter Seals in Pell City, AL, recently experienced their first encounter like this. At the grocery store after work, the nurse practitioner was approached by a woman with a story about her daughter. The woman’s daughter wears glasses that haven’t had an updated prescription in more than five years.

She went to the Easter Seals Community Health Clinic hoping to get some help – and they delivered. Despite optometry not being a part of their practice, they approached several providers in the area until they found one who would donate the exam. Through that effort, the clinic team was able to help the young woman see clearly again, a major quality of life improvement.

Selfishly, stories like that are the heartwarming wind in the sails of people who work in charitable health. They galvanize teams, organizations, and communities.

At Replication last week, a group of Methodists was among 20 or so attendees. For the sake of people in their community like the woman who needs new glasses, I hope they’re successful launching their clinic.

I also hope working on a service ministry of this magnitude can help them see clearly as they navigate the difficulties ahead for their denomination.