by Public Relations
Living Well Clinic in Xenia provides free health care to 16,000 uninsured Greene County residents. Tim Cochrell, the interim director of the ministry, said that after a team traveled to several Christian clinics, they realized the need for this type of ministry in the local community. The clinic went from idea to reality in two years.
The clinic is now officially open and serving patients. While the clinic is only open one night a week, its board hopes to see it open more often as support for the ministry increases. The clinic provides three basic services: primary health care (immediate needs and long-term conditions), health screening (looking for and treating life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes) and education (helping patients to make healthy lifestyle choices).
Cochrell said the mission’s primary goal is to provide medical care as a means of demonstrating and proclaiming the love of Christ to its patients. “We do this by meeting with each patient to discuss their physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs and by praying with the patient with his or her permission,” he said. “Because all of our volunteers are Christians, every aspect of our medical care is oriented to the Gospel and sharing the love of Christ.”
“Each patient meets with a volunteer prior to being seen by the doctor,” Kristi Coe said. Coe is an instructor of nursing at Cedarville and serves on the board of directors for Living Well. “The counselor talks to the patient to see what needs may be present emotionally and spiritually. We know that God created the mind, body and spirit to work together. Meeting the physical needs of people is a wonderful start, but we want to be able to address other needs as well.”
Ashley Herbert, a senior Christian Education major with a concentration in cross-cultural ministry, is one person the patients might meet with. Herbert talks with patients and charts out their responses to a survey to gauge where they stand physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. “This often leads to deeper discussion about what is going on in their life and things they are struggling with,” she said. “I have found that many people I talk with are really encouraged by a listening ear.”
Herbert said she always offers to pray for every person. “Almost everyone is eager to have me pray for him or her,” she said. “Often, asking how I can pray for them opens up more conversation about family, jobs and other things.”
Cochrell said the greatest challenge in the forming of the new ministry has been the scope of the project and the logistical details required to open a medical ministry. “God has faithfully answered prayer by providing a facility free of charge, a wonderful group of volunteers and key church partners that have helped share the load,” he said. “As we open the clinic we recognize that funding and staffing will be our two greatest challenges. We are praying that God will continue to provide the people and resources needed to see this ministry grow.”
Tammy Lee Slone, manager of postal and print services at Cedarville University got involved in serving at the ministry through a personal connection. “I was immediately interested in the ministry as it was being put together because of my own experience of being on the receiving end of a free dental clinic as a young person.” Slone came from a family of seven children and her parents did not have the means to address dental care when they were growing up.
“The pastor’s wife at the church I attended in my early 20s volunteered at a free clinic and approached me about getting help with my teeth. The care and compassion shown to me by these wonderful Christians was such a testimony for Christ and the confidence I gained from not having decay in my smile was huge.”
While Living Well does not offer dental care, the ministry is similar to the one that impacted her life. “It is great to be able to give back,” she said. It was this connection that brought Slone to Living Well.
She volunteers as office staff, which means that she is one of the first people to see a patient coming to the clinic. When she arrives at 5 p.m., there is always a line of people waiting to get in to the clinic. Her work involves triaging the patients to make sure that the most critical cases are seen first.
People from all backgrounds come in to the clinic. “We see everyone from those recently unemployed, new immigrants to the country and those employed in jobs that do not offer insurance,” Slone said. “There are diverse religious backgrounds too. The common factor is that they all need medical help that they could not get without the clinic and many of them aren't saved and need the hope found in a relationship with Christ.”
Chelsea Stoltzfus, a sophomore nursing major, has also been working in the office at Living Well, greeting patients and helping with paperwork there.
Stoltzfus said the volunteers at the clinic are kind and loving. “They are polite and helpful to the patients that come in,” she said. “There was a returning patient that came in and some of the other volunteers greeted her and were genuinely happy to see her again. Same with the patient. She just wanted to come in and talk to the people who helped her out.”
Herbert said she sees God working through the clinic every week. “It is a place of grace, compassion, love, hope and healing,” she said. “We cannot heal every physical disease, but I see the Lord use volunteers to heal emotional pain with listening ears, smiles, love, laughter, patience and hope in Christ every week.
The name for the clinic, Living Well, is taken from John 4 where Jesus explains to the woman at the well that she had come to satisfy a physical need but that her greater need was a spiritual one. “We want to serve our patients in the same manner as Jesus did, demonstrating compassionate care for their physical needs while pointing them to their ultimate spiritual need,” Cochrell said. “We are always looking for volunteers or financial partners, and those who are interested can sign up or give on our website.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,300 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Celebrating 125 years of education excellence, Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.