Charitable Grace Clinic prepares to expand
(ROCKWALL, TX – June 21, 2016) Alonzo lives with congestive heart failure but without insurance. The Rockwall man wears a defibrillator vest to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. And, when needed, he visits the Grace Clinic.
Rockwall County residents with qualifying incomes and without health insurance or medical assistance programs can contact the Grace Clinic, near downtown Rockwall. Each Wednesday evening, local health care professionals volunteer to treat basic ailments—coughs and colds—or more serious conditions.
Since March 2014 the clinic has served “the uninsured and underserved” at 418 E. Bourn St. Grace Clinic staff has made good use of space provided by Piedra Angular Assembly of God, which has shared office areas and contributed rooms for patient examinations. But the clinic will soon move to its own facility.
I recently met some of the clinic staff during their 6 to 8 p.m. hours. A non-English speaking woman, Guadalupe Vera, greeted me from her desk in the foyer, where she volunteers with patient check-in. Her bilingual daughter, Esmeralda, soon arrived to work beside her.
Beyond the foyer I met Grace Clinic’s Board President, Brenda Cross, who showed me the two exam rooms they outfitted with donations from Baylor Hospital’s warehouse. Afterward, in the small office shared by the entire health care team, I met others on duty that evening.
Clinic Manager Debi Williamson told me about the client with the wearable defibrillator. Alonzo comes for check-ups since he’s not eligible for Medicare until November.
Several feet from Debi’s workspace, the clinic’s Medical Director, Dr. Rebecca Burchfiel, pulled files from a cabinet. The doctor, who works with Benchmark Family Medical in Rockwall, said Grace Clinic treats a lot of health issues related to diabetes and high blood pressure.
They told me about the other health care team members. Dr. Steven Bray serves as the Assistant Medical Director and regular attending physician. The clinic’s nurse is Kate Elsey, a school nurse at Springer Elementary.
I also met Karen Straughan, who works as a local real estate agent but also serves as Grace Clinic’s Board Secretary. While the others worked around us, she and Brenda filled me in on their plans to move. While listening, I noticed the group’s happy camaraderie. Karen explained: “There’s just joy.”
A Holistic Approach
As I looked at the clinic’s brochure with a stated mission as a Christ-centered organization, I wondered how these diverse people came together.
How did Dr. Burchfiel get involved? “She’s our doctor,” Brenda and Karen chimed in together.
Brenda, who works by day as a marketing strategist, explained how the clinic emerged from a kitchen table conversation with friends several years ago. She said they all knew that out-of-hospital care is a challenge for those at the poverty level, “who too often head to the local emergency room in place of a clinic, even if they only need medication refills.”
Karen was part of that original brainstorming session and told me they believed another clinic could supplement other available health care in the area. “There’s a huge need for indigent care in Rockwall, and we hope to fill some of those gaps,” she said. “We’re open in the evening. Our staff is volunteer. We’re a free and charitable clinic like the Hope Clinic in Garland—that’s our model.” (Grace Clinic requests only a $10 donation from clients).
Dr. Bray, who had hoped for a local mission opportunity, responded to a notice about the clinic in the weekly bulletin at Lake Pointe Church, where most of the clinic’s board members attend church.
Grace Clinic honors the scriptural admonition “to do good and to share what you have” (Hebrews 13:16), which includes spiritual care. The group told me they sometimes ask to pray with clients. However, “Dr. Bray prays with everyone,” they said—nearly singing in unison.
“This is not just about health care,” Brenda added. “It’s about equipping people, offering health education, personal encouragement and Christian ministry.”
More Grace This Summer
The clinic’s new location just north of downtown, at 602 Goliad, will provide twice the space, with room for patient education and conferences. And having their own building will allow the staff to add another evening and extend the hours.
“A very generous local resident gave us the house to use,” Brenda said. The older home is being renovated and should be ready for move-in this summer.
Grace Clinic’s long-range goals include becoming a five-days-a-week clinic (still evenings) and paying mid-level providers. As a 501©3 not-for-profit organization, these and other goals depend on the support of individuals, businesses and local churches.
Find out more about Grace Clinic and volunteer opportunities at RockwallGraceClinic.org or call 972-722-4606 for an appointment.
By Blue Ribbon News special contributor Patti Richter of Heath.
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