To most people, traveling 5 miles to go to a doctor would not be an issue. But what if you are living 200 percent below poverty level, do not own a car and work multiple jobs to support your family? Guadalupe Clinic has been serving Wichita’s uninsured and underserved for 31 years, offering health care services where they are needed most: South St. Francis, South Hillside and North Broadway.
Guadalupe Clinic does not receive federal funding and relies on donations from individuals and corporations as well as funds received through grant funding organizations. The average cost of services provided per patient is $100 and patients are asked for a $5 donation, however, no one is turned away due to an inability to donate. VIP Wichita sat down with Executive Director David H. Gear to learn more about Guadalupe Clinic.
VIP: Who does your clinic serve?
DG: We serve the poorest of the poor. These are people who without Guadalupe Clinic would have to choose between taking care of their family or seeing a doctor. At Guadalupe Clinic we strive to take that burden from them. No one should ever have to make that kind of choice. Good health is a blessing and an essential ingredient in leading a productive life. We provide health care for people in our community from all races, ethnicities and religions.
VIP: How many people do you serve?
DG: In 2015, Guadalupe Clinic provided 25,656 medical services through one of our clinic locations or our many outreach programs. This past year we saw a 19 percent increase in patients. We fully expect that number to continue to rise as more people in poverty find themselves unable to afford other health care options. Other safety-net clinics serve the poor, but due to their different model of charging sliding scale fees with additional costs for each service, our patients can’t afford to go to them. In fact more than 40 percent of our patients can’t afford our request for a $5 donation. Last summer, with a generous grant from the Goebel Family Star Lumber Foundation, we doubled the clinic size on South Hillside. We are already at capacity again, which shows the need for services in our community.
VIP: What services are provided?
DG: We provide doctor’s care, general exams, health screenings, lab tests, X-rays, health education and specialty services, including allergy, cardiology, dermatology, disease and chronic illness management, orthopedics, pulmonary care, women’s health and wellness exams, and a diabetic clinic. Referrals for more serious illnesses can be made through various connections and partnerships within the community for established patients.
VIP: Who provides the services?
DG: We have 21 staff members, 10 of whom are registered nurses, physician assistants and medical assistants who work together with our volunteer health care professionals and students. Many of the services we provide are available because of our strategic educational, for example, KU School of Medicine, and professional partnerships, like Wichita Radiological Services. In 2015, we had more than 273 medical volunteers who provided in excess of 6,500 hours of their time and talents and we provided learning opportunities for more than 190 future doctors and nurses.
VIP: How did Guadalupe Clinic start?
DG: In July 1985, Guadalupe Health Station opened its doors on South St. Francis. Funds for the initial project were provided by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in Oklahoma, who had been teachers at Guadalupe Catholic Grade School for 30 years prior to the school closing. Since their mission included education and health care, the sisters decided the old Guadalupe Grade School would be a great location to start a clinic to serve the poor. Alice Wiggins, a registered nurse, was one of the founding volunteer nurses who started the health station with five other nurses. From inception, Guadalupe Clinic operated under the premise that health care professionals would follow their stewardship calling by volunteering their time and talents thus keeping costs low. In 1986, volunteer physicians joined the six nurses and the health station was renamed Guadalupe Clinic and incorporated. Alice, as well as other doctors and nurses who have volunteered since the beginning, are still volunteers today.
VIP: How can people support Guadalupe Clinic?
DG: Donations of time and talent are a critical piece to fulfilling our mission of serving the poor. Volunteers are asked to donate one four-hour shift per month. We welcome both medical and non-medical volunteers. Gifts of treasure can be mailed to 940 South St. Francis, Wichita, KS 67211 or given online at www.guadalupeclinic.com. We also greatly appreciate donations of $5 gift cards for Wal-Mart and Dillons that can be used for medication as well as all-day bus passes to assist patients with transportation. Please contact us if you’d like to tour our facilities and see first-hand the good works your generosity provides.