Free clinic stops seeing patients because of doctor shortage

Free clinic stops seeing patients because of doctor shortage

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - These are challenging times at the Bethel Free Health Clinic in Biloxi. The faith based organization was founded shortly after Hurricane Katrina and currently serves about 1400 people a year.

Their clients are people who don't have health insurance and can't afford medical care. If it weren't for Bethel, many of these patients would develop much more serious illnesses.

Because of a lack of doctors, Bethel has temporarily stopped seeing patients. Earlier this year, there were five doctors on staff, but two have left for medical reasons, another found a job elsewhere, and others have left for various reasons. Until the clinic can get volunteer doctors to spend some time with patients, they can't be seen.

Clinic Director Judy Jones said many of their patients are the working poor.

"They can't make the payments for insurance. If they make the payments, the can't afford the medicine and the visits. So we are that stopgap in there," Jones said. "They come in mainly for medication for diabetes, hypertension, COPD, those are the top three."

Besides doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are also needed. Jones said other people with valuable skill sets could help out as well.

"We need volunteer housekeepers. We need people who can file and pull records, to be able to use the computer and input data from the paper records."

In addition, cash donations are always excepted at Bethel because the clinic runs strictly on donations and grants.

"Monthly, quarterly support to keep out doors open, to turn on the lights, and to buy medical supplies," Jones said.

If you're a doctor and would like to donate your services, you can call the Bethel Free Clinic at 594-3640. Officials hope to reopen sometime next week.

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