0712 Community of Hope Health ClinicAdministrative Assistant Kelly Charles Phillips and Dr. Bill Dunham at the Community of Hope Health Clinic.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bill Dunham of Greystone began volunteering at Community of Hope Health Clinic when it opened in 2008, just about the same time as he began his retirement.
“We work to minister to patients and meet their needs,” said the current board member. “It’s a true joy. Our attitude at the clinic is not that you are looking down on [patients]; we’re just pleased to be able to help. I’m privileged to be able to do it.”
The Pelham clinic is a free clinic for uninsured residents of Shelby County. They operate as a medical mission, providing non-emergent medical care to adult patients whose household income is at or below 200 percent of the poverty level.
The clinic recently expanded into 2,000 square feet leased from Shelby County in the Health Department building off County Services Drive. Originally, the clinic opened from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The expansion allowed the clinic to continue its Thursday night schedule in addition to being open on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“At the clinic, it’s really just anything and everything,” Dunham said. “There are a lot of medical illnesses, some orthopedics, a lot of spiritual and mental difficulties. It was a real opportunity, and I was filling a needed position.”
Typical patients may have lost their health insurance and heard of the clinic through word of mouth.
“After the clinic opened, the economy got worse and more and more people were coming to the clinic because they are not people who are usually without insurance- they may have lost their job, lost their insurance,” Dunham said.
The clinic does not see pediatric patients because they can receive treatment at Children’s Hospital. They also don’t see patients over 65 as they have Medicare.
“We don’t do surgeries, but we do have the resources to refer people for specialized care if needed,” Dunham said.
Shelby Baptist Hospital provides lab work and x-rays free of charge.
“We are careful how we use that resource, but we are thankful to be able to send our patients there. It would be hard to do what we do without them,” Dunham said.
On a typical Thursday night, 10 different doctors are on the clinic’s rotation. Other volunteers work in the roles of nurses, interpreters, chaplains, receptionists and clerical personnel.
When asked about volunteer needs at the clinic, Dunham said the thing needed most is physicians.
“Growing the enthusiasm, the funding sources is important, but more doctors are always needed. I know it’s hard to work all day in your own office and then go on to see more patients, but the need is there,” he said.
For additional information on the Community of Hope Health Clinic, contact Executive Director Chris Monceret at 685- 4154 or email@example.com.