The idea for a community based nonprofit clinic began when local medical providers returned from medical missions in other countries. Seeing people here who didn’t have access to medical care they thought, “Why do I have to fly somewhere else to meet people’s needs?” So, they and others established Health and Hope Medical Outreach.

Every Tuesday evening for the last seven years, a couple of dozen volunteers work tirelessly to offer medical care for the uninsured and under-insured of Lewis and south Thurston Counties. Health and Hope Medical Outreach sees up to 25 patients at the free walk-in clinic from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Health and Hope Medical Outreach Centralia
From January to December 2018, Hope and Health Medical Outreach served 314 patients. Photo courtesy: Health and Hope Medical Outreach

Operating with a remarkably small budget for the services provided, Health and Hope use donated clinic space from NW Pediatrics. With the help of medical professionals and other volunteers, there is not a lot of overhead.

The expenses that are needed are funded by fundraisers such as the Give Local campaign with the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. Hosted by the Community Foundation, Give Local is a three-week online giving campaign to support nonprofits that serve Thurston, Mason, and Lewis Counties.

“We’ve always been many, many small donors,” says Hope and Health Board Member, Jami Lund. “So, the idea of the Give Local campaign where we could access lots of people and get a little bit from each of them is our belief system. We would rather be more of a grassroots organization so it’s a perfect kind of a fundraiser for us.”

The care does not end when patients leave the clinic. The expenses that do come up are often for follow up care to a specialist or for prescriptions. By making arrangements with local pharmacies and other medical providers to get a good deal, Health and Hope leverages their resources and stretches donor dollars even further.

Health and Hope Medical Outreach Centralia
Health and Hope Medical Outreach needs donors but they also need medical volunteers. Photo courtesy: Health and Hope Medical Outreach

The unique ability to be a clearinghouse for medical professionals who have an interest in being charitable furthers Health and Hope’s reach. With an extensive list of referrals like dentists and specialists, Health and Hope act as a matchmaker. “Really, we are a service to put people with needs with people who have the skills and abilities to help – some on-site and some we refer out,” says Lund.

After patients see the doctor and have any needed lab work, they meet with a resource coordinator. They are given resources through connections with agencies and people in the area who can help with the specific need, like finding work.

Once patients are done, they have seen up to six people in the course of their visit. They are often ecstatic about the nature of their treatment at Health and Hope. “The reactions are extraordinary,” says Lund. “It’s not a medical processing plant – just people caring about other people. It’s pretty impacting on patients.”

Interestingly, the organization is not owned by any single church. A dozen or more churches in the area send volunteers. “Then it is not a burden,” says Lund. “When I speak at churches, someone always wants to give back. Maybe they have seen medical struggles, and this is what lights them up. We gather them up and match them to people who have needs.” Only one-third of the volunteers have a medical background.

Health and Hope Medical Outreach Centralia
From January to December 2018 Health and Hope had 591 clinic visits. Photo courtesy: Health and Hope Medical Outreach

The medical professionals that do volunteer are covered by the organization’s state and federal insurance. “Providers love how it works because they can practice medicine like they thought they would get to when they went to medical school,” says Lund. “The time increments, scheduling and insurance type all doesn’t matter. They get to meet a person and figure out what they need and what’s best for their treatment using their professional judgment unhampered by any other factor and spend the amount of time they want to.”

Patients are often behind on their medical care and many are facing issues with hypertension, diabetes and infections. Follow up care is provided when needed. After the affordable care act, more people had insurance but with high deductibles and minimal coverage. “It’s a lot like not having insurance,” says Lund. “We adjusted our policies to what we call underinsured, so they are also eligible. We are really about meeting needs.”

It’s all because of the wonderful volunteers and local donors. “We’ve been partners with the Community Foundation for several years,” says Norm Hamlow, Board Chairman with Health and Hope. “We rely on a lot of small donors and Give Local is perfect for that. Lewis County is very generous. A lot of people buying in and believing in what we are doing and indicating that with a small gift is far better than one person donating a large amount. A measure of community support is to have many small donors. It’s a brilliant idea of the Community Foundation to make that possible. They matchmake of a different kind. It’s a great partnership since they can use their expertise to leverage our need for accessing small donors.”

Health and Hope Medical Outreach Centralia
“We have scores of small donors and a campaign like Give Local gives us access to even more,” says Lund. Photo courtesy: Health and Hope Medical Outreach

Now is the time to get ready to “Give Where You Live” with the Community Foundation. The annual online crowdfunding campaign begins on Tuesday, November 6. Organizations like Health and Hope Medical Outreach cannot do the wonderful work they do without the support of local people.

Health & Hope Medical Outreach
1911 Cooks Hill Road
Centralia
360-623-1485

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