Norwalk Reflector: Health clinic based in local church
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Health clinic based in local church

Cary Ashby • Mar 3, 2019 at 4:00 PM

NEW LONDON — Pastor Doug Lang considers the new health clinic based in New London Alliance Church “a smaller part of a bigger puzzle.”

Known in the church as a hope clinic, it will be open the third Wednesday of each month, from noon to 4 p.m. The clinic, which complements a similar one in Shenandoah called Shiloh Medical Services, is in two rooms in the Christian education wing of the church.

“If there is a significant need and volume that requires more than just once a month, then we’ll make adjustments,” physician assistant Chad Kaufman said. “The idea is to deliver high-quality care at a reasonable price — a price that people can understand for the service obtained in that area.”

Any patients who come to the New London clinic are asked to provide what money they can toward their care.

“If they can’t afford the fee we are advertising, then they work with the church to come up with what they can afford,” Kaufman said. “The focus is on those folks (who) really can’t get to care or can’t afford care. We’ve made arrangements with the church to try to provide discounts — significant discounts — and not allow anybody not to get care because they can’t afford it.”

The original vision for the clinic was to be part of a community center being planned by New London Alliance. Lang said the congregation recently started raising money for the 42,000 square-foot facility, to be located on 10 acres of land across the road from the church, 4625 Ohio 162, New London. The pastor also said the church is finalizing the layout of the community center with an architect.

New London Alliance purchased the property from a family.

“It had a house and four outbuildings,” Lang said. “We are renting the home to a family in the church in the meantime.”

Two to 2 1/2 years ago, the pastor went to his governing board with a vision for the community center. Lang said the church leaders realized there was space for the clinic in the church building, so the decision was made to base it there until the clinic can be housed in the new facility.

“Bottom line is we want to help the people in the community,” the pastor added.

Kaufman said he sees a lot of value in affordable health care, especially with the Mennonite and Amish population in the Shenandoah area.

“The community really needs it,” the physician assistant added. “I worked at Samaritans for 18 years and often we see Amish patients (who) come in very, very sick. They tend to wait too long because of the cost of care.”

One of the philosophies is to see those type of patients sooner. Kaufman said he hopes the clinic will direct patients to a hospital or take care of any health problems to avoid a stay in the hospital.

“We‘re going to have services like an X-ray; we’re going to have a lab — a full-service lab,” he said. “We hope to accept insurances. There are currently about 10 insurances we’ll accept, including Medicare and Medicaid. We either hope to utilize the lab at our office or collect some samples here in New London as well and take them back to our lab.”

Kaufman’s connection with New London Alliance grew out of someone who attends the church, a emergency medical technician. 

“I was contacted by the leadership of the church here and I came to a meeting. It was clear from listening to the leadership that they had a tremendous heart to serve this community. Apparently, there are quite a few single parents; there are folks here (who) one, find it difficult to get to a physician out of this community or two, have a difficult time paying for services — either because co-pays are so high or they don’t have insurance,” he said.

“So listening to their heart about how they want to (do to) serve this community, and what they believe Christ is instructing them to do to love their community, we decided to join in and serve that.”

Lang said another philosophy of the clinic is “knowing no one who comes in will be turned away” due to his or her financial situation.

Church volunteers converted a larger classroom into two spaces by adding a wall. That gives the clinic a waiting room and an examination room.

“It was a group effort,” Lang said.

Kaufman was asked about the unusual situation of having a health clinic based in a church.

“What’s neat about this church and the church leadership here is … obviously they’re concerned about how people are spiritually, but they also know if they can’t take care of their basic needs, that’s a major problem as well. So they really want to reach their community in those practical ways, including health care, but they are looking at other ways to help this community as well and so I think that complements what we are trying to do while we’re down in Shenandoah or here,” he said.  

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