By MARY RAINWATER
The WHC Clinic in Anderson County will soon reopen its doors to the community, and while many have already offered a helping hand to get the operation up and running, more help is still needed.
The clinic (formerly known as the Women’s Health Connections Clinic) began as a ministry of Dr. Gary Parkhurst in the form of a free clinic in downtown Palestine.
When Parkhurst left to pursue full-time medical missions, a local church came forward to keep the local operation running.
“It was a blessing. Palestine had a need and they were there to help meet it,” clinic volunteer Wylie Swift said. “People would be lined up around the block in all kinds of weather, just to get medical attention.”
The clinic has relocated more than once since its founding 15 years ago — at one time sharing space with Sanctuary House ministries at the old railroad hospital. Now, the clinic board has found what they hope to be a more permanent situation at 205 E. Brazos St..
The building and site, located near the old memorial hospital, is owned by Anderson County, and prior to its current use, served as a storage warehouse.
“The building itself needed a lot of work and the Anderson County Commissioners Court did not hesitate to offer it,” clinic office manager Shirley Shaddock said. “The building was found to have a leaking roof and an entire wall had rotted out due to water damage.
“The commissioners and county employees volunteered their time to come and make repairs,” she said. “They also took care of repair/replacement of the air conditioner units.
All the repair work has been done by volunteers, Shaddock said, except for those projects where licensed professionals were required.
“An anonymous donor gave us $3,500 to continue work on the building,” Shaddock said. “And that money has gone a long way to help.”
“Everybody came from every place to help,” she added. “At one time we had volunteers from five different churches here working. They all have such good hearts.”
But more help is certainly needed.
“We still have a little bit of carpentry work that needs to be done and some flooring needs to be laid in one of the rooms,” Shaddock said. “We also need computers, a copier and a fax machine, and are currently applying for a grant that we hope will help meet some of those equipment needs.”
Cash donations are still needed for office supplies and items like medical charts (which can be donated if any local medical practices have some to spare).
“There have been so many who have helped us along the way — business, individuals and church groups,” Shaddock said. “We would not have gotten this far without their help.”
Another big need the WHC Clinic has is people — in particular, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, a dentist and a dental hygienist.
“We have two physicians who volunteer — Dr. Scott Lloyd of Tyler, who sees our gynecology and STD patients one day a week, and Dr. Ronald Thomas, who runs our medical clinic,” Shaddock said. “We need people to assist them, even if it just for one or two days a week.”
In addition to its standard reception area, office space, exam rooms, restroom, break room and lab, the facility has a dental examination room and some related equipment.
“We have a great need for a dentist and a dental hygienist,” Shaddock said. “We don’t have one yet, but we know the Lord is going to send one our way.”
About the Clinic
The WHC Clinic provides medical care to men, women and children who are uninsured, indigent or who just can’t afford health care (such as those with large families). It is run completely by volunteers, including physicians.
“We are a nonprofit, Christian-based medical clinic,” Shaddock said. “While we don’t charge a set price for treatments, we do ask for donations from patients — whatever they can give.
“But we don’t turn anyone away,” she added. “If they can’t pay, they don’t pay and if they need medical help they will get it.”
The clinic does not treat chronic pain or diseases (and does not store or distribute related-narcotics at the site), but treats only general medical needs.
“We work with the hospital, who does refer some patients here,” Shaddock said. “We currently treat about 3,500 patients.”
A offshoot of the clinic is the medication assistance program run by longtime volunteers Dorothy and Wylie Swift.
The medication program, which has been in operation for at least a decade, helps people who can’t afford to purchase prescription medications.
“Over 500,000 medications are distributed in a year,” Wylie Swift said. “When this operation gets going again, there will be even more. It helps a lot of people and not just people in Anderson County.”
One does not have to be a clinic patient to utilize the medication assistance program.
“The only one that we can’t helped are those who are over 65 (on Medicare) or who are on Medicaid,” Swift said.
The clinic is currently in a transition phase, waiting for a few finishing touches to the building and the return of a physician before opening its doors in the fall. A grand re-opening celebration is being planned.
“Our goal is to keep the clinic open five days a week,” Shaddock said. “We also hope to, in three years, have a new facility.
“We have watched God move so many road blocks out of the way,” she added. “If he didn’t intend for us to be here, he would not have moved them at all.”
To contact the clinic, call 902-729-3015. To volunteer to help with construction call 903-948-0679.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com