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New clinic will offer free medical, dental care

By Rick Steigmeyer, The Wenatchee World, Wash.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 09--EAST WENATCHEE -- Lighthouse Christian Ministries will soon open a free medical and dental clinic in East Wenatchee.

The clinic will offer urgent medical and dental care to area homeless and uninsured for a nominal fee or without cost, said Bob Rogers, Lighthouse Ministries director and founder.

The organization has leased a building at 858 Valley Mall Parkway for the facility and hopes to open the clinic in June.

Two retired nurses have agreed to work in the clinic and several other doctors and nurses plan to volunteer. Dental and medical offices have donated supplies and furniture. Dr. Carol See, a pulmonology specialist at Confluence Health who sits on the Lighthouse Christian Ministries board of directors, has helped coordinate the project and recruit medical staff.

Exam tables, lights and dental chairs are being moved in this week. The clinic will have three medical exam rooms, two dental rooms, a receptionist office and a waiting room. A downstairs area has room for administrative offices and storage. Both levels have handicapped-accessible bathrooms. The building was formerly home to Irish TV and later a beauty salon, which did much of the remodeling.

Medical furniture and supplies have been donated by Wenatchee Valley College's nursing program. Dental supply donations were coordinated by Drs. John Darling and Doug Milner.

Rogers said the clinic will focus on urgent medical care like cuts, bruises, colds and flus and tooth extractions or basic fillings. People who come in with broken bones, heart attacks and serious injuries will likely be transported to a hospital. Dentists won't do root canals, crowns or implants.

Rogers said the clinic will be for people who are uninsured who might normally go unhelped or go to an emergency room and run up a large bill they don't pay. The clinic will be licensed by the Washington Health Alliance, an organization that supports low-income clinics and provides malpractice insurance.

"Obamacare may help, but there's still a lot of people going to the emergency room for things that are not emergencies. This will be a clinic for the uninsured, not just the homeless," he said. The clinic will charge a nominal fee of $10 to $20 for a visit, but won't turn away anyone who doesn't have money, he said.

The clinic will employ a couple paid staff, but most who work there will be volunteers. All will go through thorough background checks

"There are doctors and dentists in this valley who have a heart to serve. They go on mission trips all over the world, but they haven't had a place to help here in the valley," Rogers said. He said Wenatchee is one of the state's largest metropolitan areas without a free medical clinic.

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No narcotics or psychoactive drugs will be stocked in the building to reduce risk of break-ins or theft, Rogers said. Security systems will be installed in all rooms. "People working and volunteering here need to feel secure," he said.

Lighthouse Christian Ministries is a nonprofit organization that primarily helps the homeless through its Lighthouse soup kitchen, Gospel House emergency housing, Mission House men's transitional housing, Grace House transitional housing for women and children, a preschool program and weekly food distributions.

"This will really fill a gap," said Rogers. "It will be good for the whole community."

Reach Rick Steigmeyer at 509-664-7151 or steigmeyer@wenatcheeworld.com. Read his blog Winemaker's Journal or follow him on Twitter at @steigmeyerww.

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(c)2014 The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.)

Visit The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.) at www.wenatcheeworld.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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