Every Thursday from the gymnasium of Grove’s First Baptist Church, the Christian Medical Clinic serves this community’s many uninsured residents with a myriad of health care needs. Though seven years in existence, the CMC’s scope of outreach remains relatively unknown. “They’re filling a gap. But they’re not just a patch job, they really want to help people through,” says Amy Mays, Clinical Director of the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit at INTEGRIS Grove General Hospital.
Volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, pastors, accountants, pharmacists, social workers and others converge weekly to help those needing medicine on the spot, a rotten tooth pulled or a back adjusted. Needs are prayed for and those eligible for patient assistance are aided in qualifying and signing up. Individuals 19 years and older may begin registering for help at 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays—first-come first-served—and patients are seen by appropriate volunteer experts at 6 p.m.
Dr. Zachary Bechtol has been a volunteer since the clinic opened and explains, “The Christian Medical Clinic is just a great place to see the communities’ goodwill at work. These are our people in our community who need our services, and we simply step up to the plate and help them at their point of need.” With the consent of his patients, Dr. Bechtol shares some amazing rescues:
One young man came in to the clinic with undiagnosed cardiomyopathy, and was treated, and assisted with qualifying for disability. Tests were arranged at Grove General Hospital, with one doctor volunteering a heart catheterization. Dr. Bechtol continues to see this patient in his office through Medicare and reports, “He would have died had it not been for the clinic, and the medicine and testing provided.”
A waitress suffering from severe shortness of breath came into the clinic, and it was determined that heavy flow during periods had left her with only about an eighth of her normal blood supply—a depletion of red blood cells to carry the oxygen. After a blood transfusion, a hysterectomy cured the problem. More than a year later, Dr. Bechtol saw her, and—grateful to be back to work and to a normal life—she thanked him for saving her life!
Another patient came in to get medicine refills, with an ulcer on her cheek that she’d had for some six months. It was arranged for the tumor which extended down to the bone and back under the eye to be removed. And though she has a steel plate, she is cured.
As health care in America realizes gaping holes in a system that swallows large portions of its citizens, many hard-working people are caught in the cycle. Dr. Bechtol is passionate about people with untreated diseases and those suffering from preventable illnesses not getting medical attention, and describes it as a travesty! “The community of Grove didn’t look to a government agency to fix the problem,” he reports, “The CMC brings a diverse group together to work for the common good of helping people.” He further insists that time or resources volunteered to the CMC result in immediate benefits seen on the faces of the clinic’s patients.
Dr. Rollin Bland and Office Manager Cathi Spencer founded the CMC in February 2001, shortly after the doctor returned from a mission trip abroad—one of many. When Cathi asked him, “Why don’t you do something here?” that became the impetus for starting the clinic they both regularly support with their time and talents. Dr. Bland says unequivocally that without Cathi—coordinator of much of the volunteering—the CMC could not happen!
INTEGRIS Grove General Hospital has been a committed supporter, providing funding, equipment, testing, and expertise—CMC patient x-rays are voluntarily read by Dr. Michael Foster.
The 501c3 clinic is financed by donations and clearly could do much more with more funding. Volunteer dentists, dental assistants, nurses, doctors and chiropractors are needed, as is a hospitality coordinator. Send donations to Christian Medical Clinic-Grand Lake Inc., c/o Clara Mills, CPA, P.O. Box 451368, Grove OK 74345, and call the office of Dr. Rollin Bland at 786-4448 to volunteer.