BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For thousands of people in South Mississippi, Coastal Family Health Center is their only option for obtaining affordable health care. The agency has been in operation for 35 years. Because of that, a celebration was held Saturday at the main clinic on Division Street in Biloxi.
"What this would mean if Coastal was not here is that 30,000 patients a year would not get access to health care," Coastal Family Health CEO Angel Greer said.
That includes patients like Anna Griffith and her family, who don't have health insurance.
"The care is very thorough. I see one doctor that has my whole history. He's got records and everything and he's been my main doctor for the past couple of years," Griffith explained.
For the doctors and others who volunteer at the clinic, it perhaps means more to them than the patients they see. Dr. Earl Malone has been at Coastal Family for 13 years.
"It makes me feel great. I've had a 40 year career and this is the latter part of my career and I enjoy it very much," Malone said.
Helping people in need is a calling for that goes beyond the medical bottom line.
"It's something that's very personal and I'm very grateful to be in a position where I can afford opportunities to people who don't necessarily have means to get that quality care," said Clinic Manager Katherine Eaton.
Despite all the medical successes here at Coastal Family Health Center over the past 35 years, challenges remain. They're difficult challenges that will only be solved with money, according to Greer.
"Funding remains a challenge with the national deficit issue looming and the state budget decisions are always affecting us with Medicaid," Greer explained. "In addition, the reimbursement is changing in health care, so there are some challenges that lie ahead for us."
Despite that, officials at Coastal Family say they'll continue to provide needed care for the next 35 years and beyond.
Coastal Family operates 10 clinics on the coast, and also offers two mobile units as well. Just last week, USA Weekend magazine named the clinic as one of 11 agencies in the country that are making a difference in America.