It’s a Special Day of Caring with a special emphasis on women’s health.
Open Arms Health Clinic, a new faith-based doctor’s office in southwest Arlington, will offer free mammograms as part of its grand opening Tuesday. The exams will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by medical professionals from the Fort Worth-based Moncrief Cancer Center, part of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
During the same time, a breast health educator from the JPS Health Network will teach women how to perform a self-exam. The clinic also hopes to offer Pap smears.
Mayor Robert Cluck will participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., along with representatives of ECHO—Empowering Community Healthcare Outreach—a faith-based nonprofit in Fort Worth that has helped launch 44 similar clinics from Washington state to Florida.
“We wouldn’t be here without them,” said Fran Martin, executive director of Open Arms.
Members from the area churches that form the core support group for Open Arms will also be present. Nearby St. Barnabas United Methodist Church, which Martin attends, recently established the clinic at 3921 W. Green Oaks Blvd., Suite D.
It’s truly compassionate care. Patients don’t need insurance—or even money—to be seen and treated. The staffers are all volunteers; the budget comes completely from donations.
Regular hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays. The clinic will be open for regular hours Tuesday after the women’s health screenings.
Pre-registration is required for a mammogram. Call 817-496-1919.
STANWOOD—An active group of philanthropists is to be honored Feb. 24 at the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation’s annual breakfast.
Philanthropy is celebrated in the Stanwood and Camano Island community because life would there be much more difficult without it, said foundation Executive Director Tracy Ulrich. The nonprofit foundation is the top source of charitable giving in the community, Ulrich said,
Former King County executive Ron Sims, who has been honored for his public service, plans to speak at the awards breakfast set for 8 a.m. Feb. 24 at the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center, 27130 102nd Ave. NW in Stanwood. The public is invited.
The philanthropists to be honored give of their time, money and talents as well as inspire others to do the same, Ulrich said.
They are Dr. Jimmy Grierson, Vivian Henderson and Dan Hernan, as well as the Camano Island Builders Association.
Grierson is the founder of the Safe Harbor Free Clinic, a free medical walk-in clinic in Stanwood. The clinic has provided comprehensive health care services to uninsured people since opening its doors in June 2009. Grierson serves as chairman of the Safe Harbor board of directors, he volunteers his time there and also teaches medical students who volunteer at Safe Harbor. Henderson has championed causes associated with farming. She is a founder of Harvest Jubilee, helped form Slow Food Port Susan and dedicates her time to the Farmers Market Steering Committee and Port Susan Food and Farming Center.
Hernan started a firewood ministry to make a difference in the lives of families who couldn’t afford to keep their homes heated. He then spearheaded a community campaign to provide firewood. He regularly recruits a group of men to cut, stack and distribute wood to families who need help. Last year, he and his friends delivered more than 400 cords of free wood. The Firewood Ministry has distribution centers in Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties.
The Camano Island Builders Association and its members regularly donate to the community. In 2010, association members took a week off from their own construction projects to help build the Rotary Adventure Playground at Freedom Park on Camano Island. In November, they helped renovate a dilapidated building used by the Stanwood-Camano Christmas House.
Open Arms Health Clinic offers physicals, management of chronic problems like high blood pressure and diabetes, and nonemergency acute care for conditions like sore throats and earaches. Broken bones and life-threatening problems are referred to hospital emergency rooms. Walk-ins are welcome.
A visit to Open Arms Health Clinic in southwest Arlington is almost like a visit to any other doctor’s office.
The tidy waiting room is filled with chairs and magazine-lined tables. A TV helps patients pass the time. Off to one side, toys beckon the little ones.
Behind the door by the check-in window, friendly practitioners take down patient medical history, conduct exams and prescribe any necessary therapy.
But one major difference sets this brand-new clinic apart: Patients don’t need insurance—or even money—to be seen and treated. The staffers are all volunteers; the budget comes completely from donations.
You could call it healthcare with a heart.
“We say that God’s fingerprints are all over this,” said Executive Director Fran Martin, a registered nurse whose day job is clinical instructor at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing. “We’re learning as we go. Every time we take a wrong turn, he says, ‘Uh-uh. You need to be doing this.’”
A church’s vision
The concept originated at nearby St. Barnabas United Methodist Church on West Pleasant Ridge Road. Among its congregation members are Martin and Dr. Bob Ure, a family physician who has retired from private practice but continues working part time.
“I’ve always wanted to work at a free clinic,” said Ure, who at the moment is Open Arms’ only physician. Likewise, Martin envisioned herself giving back to the community. “I always said that when I retired, you’d be able to find me at Mission Arlington,” she said.
Ure’s mother-in-law presented the idea to the church and won approval for it. At first, the plan called for a small clinic housed at the church. “That didn’t work out,” Ure joked. “Now we have this grand clinic.”
A benefactor who wants to remain anonymous donated the first year’s lease for the 2,500-square-foot clinic, which has six exam rooms, across from the Lake Arlington Branch Library. Cook Children’s Health Care System provided the exam tables, “the most expensive part,” Martin said. The regional United Methodist Church body chipped in $5,000. Other items came from the Baylor Health Care System’s Faith in Action Initiatives.
After organizers set up the clinic, at 3921 W. Green Oaks Blvd., Suite D, they held an open house for nearby churches. As a result, members of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, St. Peter and St. Paul Anglican Church and others are now among the volunteer staff, Martin said.
‘Like a miracle’
Another nonprofit assisted with Open Arms’ application for 501(c)3 status. For insurance coverage, the clinic turned to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which operates a program to provide malpractice liability protection. “Most clinics and hospitals have credentialing, privileging and peer-reviewing,” Martin said. “We have all that.”
That step offers not only protection to the practitioners but also assurance to donors and patients that the clinic isn’t a fly-by-night operation, said Maureen Vega, a parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul who now serves on the Open Arms board.
“To me, this place is like a miracle,” she said. “A lot of clinics have red tape, and there’s a reason for it, but for a lot of people that’s a stumbling block. Our only eligibility requirement is that you show up.”
As word of the clinic spreads, patient volume has begun to pick up, Martin said. The clinic is listed on the 211 hotline for social services. Schools in Mansfield, Arlington and Fort Worth have begun referring families for wellness exams and other needs.
For now, the clinic is only open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays. Adding physicians and nurse practitioners—there are now three—would allow for more operating hours, Martin said. A physical therapist has expressed interest in coming on board, and the staff might welcome a counselor or social worker as well, she said.
As a faith-based clinic, the volunteers aren’t worried about being taken advantage of by somebody who could afford healthcare but doesn’t want to pay for it.
“Anybody who wants to can donate,” Martin said. “We’ve received more donations than we ever expected. But when somebody comes in, we don’t ask questions.”
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