Feed Center’s free medical clinic grows

Sun News correspondentJune 18, 2014 

Pastor Al Sanders and Feed Center Free Medical Clinic volunteer Dollie Horton in one of the clinic’s new, larger exam rooms.

  • The Feed Center free medical clinic

    Address: 313 Carver Drive, Fort Valley
    Phone: 478-825-0038
    Leadership: Al Sanders
    Clinic hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
    Intake hours: 9 a.m.-noon Wednesday

FORT VALLEY -- The Feed Center church’s free medical clinic is regularly serving more than 780 patients, but its capacity to serve has doubled with a remodel and the addition of two new exam rooms.

That gives the charitable free clinic four exam rooms to serve those in need in the Fort Valley community, plus those who come from Byron and other parts of Peach and seven other midstate counties.

The Feed Center held an open house June 10 to show off the new facility.

“We started The Feed Center in 2005 and began the clinic four years ago,” said Al Sanders, director and pastor of the Feed Center Outreach Ministries. “It’s unbelievable how the clinic has taken on such a new face and direction and grown so in such a short period of time. At one point we were saying, ‘God, how are you going to do this? How are you going to meet the need?’ But beyond what we can do we’ve seen him do more than we expected.”

Sanders said the clinic depends day by day and week by week on God’s faithfulness and the charitable donations of people to meet the need for free medical care.

He said with Peach County’s hospital moving out of Fort Valley near Interstate 75 on the Ga. 247 Connector, he knew there would be an increase in the need for care and for God’s provision.

“I guess it costs about $75 to $100 to treat a person per visit,” Sanders said. “If you include lab work and other services we provide, it easily gets up higher to more like $175 or $200. To consider that and the fact we’ve been able to add two exam rooms is just amazing.”

Sanders said the two additional rooms and other factors have allowed the clinic to reduce its current waiting list of potential patients from 70 to 10.

“Other factors definitely include Dr. George Shoup, Dr. Adams and the other doctors who volunteer,” Sanders said. “We couldn’t do what we do without them and all the volunteers who keep the clinic operating and operating so well. Another factor has been the help of the Fort Valley Utility Commission. They’ve helped in many ways including donating a 15-passenger van with a wheelchair lift. Transportation is a big factor for many of our patients.”

One such patient is Claudette Umoessien of Byron who discovered she was ill four years ago while employed. Two years ago she was left without medical care and had nowhere to turn for diabetes treatment and drugs or care for other ailments. All she could see was an already high medical debt mounting higher and higher.

“These people really stepped up and are a godsend for me,” she said. “I can pay $2 for transportation that Peach County offers from Byron and get here for treatment. And they really care about you. You’re not just being shuffled through. You can tell they love God and love people. Even if I miss an appointment, they give me a call to check on me and see how I’m doing.”

The stated goal of the Feed Center Free Medical Clinic is to provide free medical care to working uninsured patients. Primary care doctors, nurses, technicians and administrative personnel volunteer their time while the clinic depends on donated funds to offer quality, compassionate medical services to those with no other resources for health care.

The clinic qualifies new patients on Wednesdays and sees patients by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays. New patients must present information such as picture ID, Social Security card, proof of income, proof of residency, utility bill, previous year’s tax return, current medications, potential insurance and Medicaid and Medicare coverage and food stamp information.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I know people who need this and use it,” said Dollie Horton, a member at the Feed Center church, volunteer at the clinic and chairman of the Fort Valley Utility Commission. “The Feed Center operates it, but it’s something the community has rallied around. That’s so great to see. It’s necessary. With the additional space we’ve been able to expand the clinic from just evenings to during the day, and that’s important to a lot of people we serve. It’s such a blessing and such a thrill to see people helping people like this. I know God is pleased.”

For Sanders, it’s just more cause to be confident in God.

“It’s mind-blowing to see what he’s doing,” he said. “His thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. They’re a whole lot bigger than we could ever imagine.”

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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