MUNCIE, Ind. — A free medical clinic, aimed at helping people who struggle to afford basic health care, is being organized at the Muncie Mission and is expected to open in October.
Bob Scott, vice president of development for the Muncie Mission, said the organization is preparing an exam room and dispensary in the Mission offices on the south side of the city, and has acquired some equipment to deliver basic medical care to the poor, uninsured and underinsured people in Delaware County.
The medical staff of Muncie Mission Free Medical Clinic is headed by physician Kevin Luksus, who retired from his family practice in Muncie and New Castle. He also practiced in Anderson.
Luksus said five other physicians are planning to participate in the clinic.
"It really comes out of the experience of encountering many patients who fall through the cracks," Luksus said.
The physician was involved in a free clinic in Anderson years ago and brings that experience with him to the project in Muncie.
Luksus said Frank Baldwin, Muncie Mission CEO and president, saw the clear need for a clinic for people the Mission was helping in other ways who were not having their health needs met.
Work on developing a clinic in the Mission's home at 1725 S. Liberty Street has been ongoing for months and has now received the needed permits needed from the Indiana Department of Health, Scott said.
"Our next hurdle is getting the volunteer medical professional needed," he said.
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The medical staff will be led by Luksus. Monica Myers, a registered nurse, is helping to steer the effort and will assist in administrative duties for the clinic in addition to helping recruit volunteers. The clinic will operate on an appointment basis.
Nurses and clinicians and other medical personnel, as well as clerical staff, are needed to help operate the clinic. The clinic will require licensed staff as well as lay people. Luksas said there will be a need for volunteers who can navigate patients into government programs designed to help people in need. For example, some without health insurance, who might qualify for the Affordable Care Act program, could receive assistance in signing up in the health insurance marketplace.
The operation will be part-time initially. According to Luksus, plans call for the clinic to be open on 9 a.m.-noon Mondays, 6-8:30 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays. But the hours of operation will hinge eventually on the number of volunteers available.
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According to a Mission brochure, volunteers can commit to a 4-hour shift a month. Luksus said the clinic is flexible regarding volunteer hours.
Inside the Mission, the staff have converted one office into an examination room, complete with a medical exam table. The Mission dispensary, where medicines for residents are kept, is being converted into a place for lab work, including blood draws. Luksas said the Mission plans to have the clinic up and running by the first week in October.
Luksus said simple testing, such as checking for COVID-19, will be done on site but the clinic also will work with Lab Corp. for tests needing an actual laboratory. Most testing costs will be covered by clinic donors. The most expensive of tests might have to be handled outside the clinic.
The clinic will help the unemployed and working people who might have health insurance that doesn't offer much help short of hospitalization.
"There's a lot of high deductible insurance out there," Scott said. "If you don't have $100 to spend out of pocket for a lab test you don't get treated."
Inflation has curbed early the clinic plans, even while it has impacted other programs the Mission already provides. "The food pantry has been seeing more and more, and the lunch line has been getting longer every day," Scott said.
It has been a tough summer for the Mission. Violence has become more commonplace in the community and tension can be felt among the people who turn to the Mission for help.
"We are ready to start going with this," said Scott. "People on the street are not in good health."
Luksus said census figures show that about 10% of Delaware County residents don't have health insurance. The clinic should be a place where such people can enter the healthcare system for non-emergency issues without going to an emergency room, and receive treatment and health guidance regarding chronic conditions.
The physician said the clinic would serve al types of patients, including people who qualify for public assistance. Census figures show more than 30% of Muncie residents currently live in poverty,
Those wanting to help establish the clinic by volunteering can go to the Mission website and apply through the site volunteer page or contact Monica Myers at 765-288-9122, ext. 103, or by email at email@example.com. The Mission clinic is looking for credentialed physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants and medical assistants. Office assistants also are needed.
This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Muncie Mission plans to open free clinic in October