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Free Clinic is a Matthew 25 Solution

Journal-Review, May 30, 2012
Pastor Gary Lewis, First United Methodist Church, Crawfordsville, IN

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me ….

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:36, 40)

On Thursday, June 7, at 2 p.m., the board of directors of the Montgomery County Free Clinic Inc. will be hosting a Celebration of Beginnings as the Christian Nursing Service (CNS) moves to a new future with the Dr. Mary Ludwig Free Clinic. The clinic will offer basic medical and dental care to the uninsured of Montgomery County.

I have had the pleasure of being a small part of this effort. The clinic will be located right across the street from the Big Dipper and nearby Milligan Park. The Big Dipper brings back many memories for me.

When I was a youngster, my Aunt Alma lived on Elmore Street. Every Fourth of July we would set up our chairs in her tiny front yard to enjoy the fireworks display. Throughout the summer months, it seemed, I would enjoy baseball in the park and look forward to our visits to the Big Dipper. I wish I could share the news of this development in her neighborhood. She would have been happy to hear about it.

The bad news is that we have many people in Montgomery County who do not get the health care they need. Many of them have jobs but lack the means to purchase health insurance. The rising cost of health care even makes matters worse.

It is truly a Matthew 25 solution to a major community need. Through a collaborative effort between physicians, nurses, dentists, the local hospital, the county health department, the school system and others, a not-for-profit organization was established. A nurse practitioner and a nurse manager will be employed. All of the physicians, dentists and other health care professionals will be volunteers.

Hopefully, those who have volunteered for the CNS clinic will continue their service as greeters, receptionists and assistants in the new clinic. Up to 5,000 persons in our community lack health insurance and the clinic will also take the pressure off of the hospital emergency room. The goal is to have every willing resident to be identified with a physician.

If the community support continues, the clinic will be located at 816 South Mill Street, Crawfordsville, a few doors down from the Milligan Memorial Presbyterian Church where the Christian Nursing Service (CNS) has been housed since 1968. The clinic will be named in honor of Ludwig, a pediatrician who spearheaded the Well Baby Clinic of CNS.

The clinic will also serve as an immunization center for children of Montgomery County, an education center toVolunteer nurse seeing a patient at Christian Nursing Service improve the health of all residents and the administrative hub for Christian Nursing Service’s popular Meals on Wheels ministry.

Much remains to be accomplished, but the evidence so far indicates wide community support for this important effort. As a member of the board, I was thrilled to hear the news that North Central Health Services of Lafayette (NCHS) has partnered with us. We need to raise $300,000 to obtain $900,000 from NCHS.

The resulting $1.2 million will be used to transform the MainSource bank on Mill Street into the free clinic. In addition, we will need to raise $175,000 each year to operate the facility and $1 million for an endowment fund to help support the ongoing costs of the clinic.

I believe Montgomery County is a caring community and we fill find folks willing to donate in this important effort. If you can join us on June 7 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, please do so.

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