OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Bethesda Free Clinic in Ocean Springs has been providing free healthcare out of a double-wide trailer for more than five years. Right now, the clinic is getting ready for a big upgrade.
When Bethesda Free Clinic opened its doors more than five years ago, it had one purpose.
"If you need to see a doctor, we're going to do our best for you to see a doctor," said Executive Director Mary Buffington.
Back then, the clinic opened two days a week and treated around 50 patients a month. Now, the staff is opening the clinic four days a week.
"And seeing an average of about 230 patients a month. We're just growing tremendously for the need in the community," said Buffington.
The growth in clientele has demanded an expanded facility.
"We prayed for it and we hoped for it, but we really didn't know where it would come from," said Buffington.
The hopes and prayers were answered when the State Health Department closed its Ocean Springs office less than 100 yards from Bethesda. According to Buffington, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors helped land the keys to the old health department in her hands.
After the clinic moves to its new location, it will double its number of exam rooms.
"We'll be afforded to see more patients in a more structured manner," said Medical Director Dr. Francis Selman.
According to Selman, it's a great move, but the clinic will need more help than ever from the public, both financially and from the medical community. Selman is hoping that a new location will bring more staff his way.
"The niceness and the openness of the area that we're moving into will be very attractive to help recruit," said Selman.
Buffington said the clinic doesn't receive any help from state or federal funds and relies on the community to keep its doors open. Who knows, maybe another expansion is down the road.
The clinic is officially starting it's move July 1. Buffington said she could use help to make that happen. To find out how you can volunteer your time for the move, just call the clinic at 228-818-9191 or visit the clinic's Facebook page.