JACKSON — Free rural medical care clinics will be available for Southeast Missouri residents thanks to the joint efforts of several Baptist associations in the area. A mobile medical clinic RV unit has been donated and a plan to staff it for rural health clinics has been organized.
LifeCare Ministries is the name of the new organization which will provide the unit free to the 7 participating associations and their churches in the SEMO area.
The 1996 model RV sat beside the Perry County Memorial Hospital for about 20 years. It was outfitted as a mobile medical clinic to be used for rural health clinics by the hospital located in Perryville. But it was being underutilized and hospital officials were considering selling it.
The director of missions for St. Francois Baptist Association, Phil Brewster, saw the RV parked there as he made visits to the hospital. His son works at the hospital and helped him get in touch with proper hospital contacts.
After some inquiries and negotiations the hospital agreed to donate the unit to the southeast Missouri associations so it can be used for rural healthcare ministries. Brewster said it was in good condition with only 8,000 miles on it and it had been kept in a climate controlled environment.
John Vernon, director of missions for Cape Girardeau Baptist Association, located in Jackson, helped organize the new Lifecare Ministries as a nonprofit organization and developed promotional brochures and a website for the ministry.
They offer the unit to be used for:
• Health assessment screening
• Basic health care training
• Crisis pregnancy counseling
• Blood drive assistance
• Hearing and vision testing
• Sports physicals
• Drug abuse counseling
• Well-baby clinics
• First Aid for scheduled events
• Disaster relief
Brewster said the need was evident in the area of southeast Missouri which has a large percentage of poverty-impacted people and communities.
“The area along the Mississippi is referred to as the ‘Third World’ of the U.S. 50% of the population lis below the poverty level. We’ve had several large industries move out—including a large aluminum smelter where 800 jobs were lost. Wage earners as well as medicare recipients are having trouble affording medical care and the transportation needs to get access to it,” Brewster said.
He added, “Of all the felt needs we considered where we could get a hearing for the Gospel, the need for medical care was the most pressing. There are already several ministries in the region providing food for the poor, but we wanted to offer free medical care.”
John Vernon concurred saying the van would be able to “go to the people” instead of expecting them to come into Cape Girardeau, Sikeston or Poplar Bluff. Transportation is an issue for many in the rural communities of the delta region.
The leaders have plans to provide the unit for churches and associations and it is equipped and ready to use now. It is currently being housed in the Cape Girardeau Association and is now available for requests to use it.
Brewster said he has received an inquiry about using it to help establish a crisis pregnancy center in the Poplar Bluff area for outreach services.
The unit features two exam rooms, a lab, rest room and a wheel chair lift. It has been outfitted with basic medical supplies.
Both Brewster and Vernon said in addition to the healthcare that will be provided they are very interested in having a platform to share the Gospel with those who visit the medical clinics and and it will offer an opportunity to share Christ with those using the services.
It is available to the 7 participating associations free upon request. A request form is able to be downloaded from the group’s website. Churches or associations will enlist volunteer nurses and doctors to staff the clinics. They already have some nurses and physicians offering to volunteer and they are looking for others.
Vernon added they are grateful for the $4,000 that has been raised for operations for the project to date and he said many of the participating associations used Missouri Mission Offering funds to contribute to the pool of funds.
For more information or to request use of the unit, check the LifeCare website at www.lifecareministries.net. They also have a Facebook page.