Free clinic launched in McMinnville
“We didn’t promote it at all, except for a couple of fliers at the soup kitchen,” said Howie Harkema, who serves as the vice president of the organization’s board. “We wanted to get all departments interacting with each other.”
Nurse practitioner Jacqui Cooke has been elected president, CPA Mary Bennett treasurer and registered nurse Mary Hill secretary. The rest of the board consists of physicians Kathy Weiss and Marion Hull, attorney Mark Bierly, registered nurse Carla Hagen and minister Ted Yuen.
Board members supervised volunteers on hand to serve as greeters, receptionists, translators, records clerks, physicians, physicians’ assistants, nurses and social workers.
Harkema said three physicians volunteered their services for the initial clinic, serving as sort of a trial run. Future clinics are slated to run 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first and third Saturdays through December. Harkema said each physician should be able to see up to eight patients, so having three available would enable the clinic to help 24 people.
“We utilized every person to their max,” Harkema said. He said the volunteers felt that overall, it was a huge success.
First Baptist allowed the group use of seven rooms, including a private office where a computer system and medical files could be stored in a locked cabinet.
Harkema said it took a year of planning to develop the program to this stage. “We’re so happy to be up and running,” he said.
He expects the next clinic, set for Saturday, March 16, will likely draw a lot more patients. “I’m a little scared that all of them will come at one time, but we’re hoping that doesn’t occur,” he said.
Harkema said the project has faith-based roots, but is designed to accommodate everyone, regardless of values and beliefs.
“We don’t push any Christian values,” he said. “We want to make it as inclusive as possible.”
Harkema spent six years heading the St. Barnabas Soup Kitchen, so has much experience working collaboratively to serve the local homeless population.
“There’s no community in Oregon that I’ve ever visited that is more capable of compassion than McMinnville,” Harkema said. “It still blows me away.”
Harkema said that even though professionals are volunteering their services, and institutions like the Willamette Valley Medical Center have been generous with supplies and support, the board is projecting an annual operating cost of $20,000. He said Dan Corrigan and Mark Wickman are planning a series of presentations to church and civic groups aimed at raising both awareness and revenue.
Additional information can be found at www.mcminnvillefreeclinc.org, along with application forms for prospective volunteers.