Op-Ed

Celebrate a decade of healing and hope

W. Christopher B. Skidmore
W. Christopher B. Skidmore

I will never forget the earnest and emotional appreciation in her eyes.

The first time I volunteered at Mission Lexington’s Free Medical Clinic, a fellow volunteer introduced me to one of our patients. She took my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, “Thank you for what you do. This doctor saved my life, and I am forever grateful for what you do here.”

The long hours, the warm smiles, the expert health care, love and respect offered to all by every volunteer on the Mission Lexington Team not only improves our patients’ health, it restores their hope in humanity

On June 12, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., Mission Lexington will hold an open house at 230 S. Martin Luther King Boulevard to celebrate 10 years of bringing healing and hope to those who need it most but have nowhere else to turn.

Over the past decade, Mission Lexington has provided more than 10,000 office visits and $5 million worth of free medical, mental health, pharmaceutical and dental care. Our volunteers work synergistically with one another, but what is even more exciting is how much we collaborate with other organizations.

As a member of the Mission Lexington team, I am moved by the selfless cooperation among different agencies. I recently received a call from a researcher for a foundation that supports free clinics in Virginia. She reported how frequently she sees territorial infighting among service organizations who compete for limited funding.

While I can attest that funding is no more plentiful in Kentucky, I have seen the impact that a collaborative attitude can have on the well-being of our patients.

Mission Lexington works closely with partners like Kentucky CancerLink, Baptist Health, LabCorp, Baby Health, the LFUCG, Nashville Dental, the University of Kentucky, Corner Pharmacy, Project CARAT and many more.

Our patients benefit from such collaboration — like the mother who stepped between her daughter and the crowbar of her abuser. Thanks to the generosity of Dentalworks Lab, we were able to reconstruct her smile.

Not only do Calvary Baptist, Faith Lutheran, First Presbyterian, Good Shepherd Episcopal, Immanuel Baptist, Maxwell Street Presbyterian, and South Elkhorn Christian Church contribute funding and volunteers; representatives of each congregation meet monthly to collaborate to enrich and advance the care that Mission Lexington provides.

The patients also benefit from our team meeting regularly with other free clinics and health centers in the area, to share what works and lean on each other’s strengths. We did not have to reinvent the wheel when formulating our first policy and procedure manual, thanks to the generous sharing of the free clinic that operates out of First Baptist Church in Frankfort.

The free clinics in Lexington will refer patients to one another because we know the specialists and strengths of each clinic. Mission Lexington has also shared information about how other free clinics can obtain free insurance coverage and other cost-saving benefits under the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Because of our warm relationship with the Nathaniel Mission Free Health Clinic, Mission Lexington was able to become the new primary-care home for all of their patients when that medical clinic was phased out. Similarly when one of our longstanding community partners, Faith Pharmacy, needed a new home, not only did they end up moving into Mission Lexington’s building, they decided to become a member of organization.

I thank all of the individual donors and volunteers who have sacrificed over the past decade to transform and save lives. Also, a hearty word of gratitude to all of the organizations, agencies, churches, programs and groups that collaborate with Mission Lexington. Our community is stronger for their service and compassion.

William Christopher B. Skidmore is executive director of Mission Lexington.

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