MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 29, 2012

Church friends started free health clinic

— The First Baptist Church Free Health Clinic began as the vision of emergency room doctor Mike Riley and his wife, Shawna, in 2008.

The Rileys approached their Sunday school class with the idea to open a free health clinic, and the class ran with the idea. Members helped find an available rental space, and two nurses and others in the class who had clerical experience staffed the all-volunteer clinic.

Dr. Riley serves as the primary physician at the clinic. Rocky Arrasmith, a physician’s assistant who works at several free clinics in the area, also volunteers at the First Baptist clinic. Three to four nurses work each evening that the clinic is open, rotating in 60- to 90-minute shifts.

No appointments are accepted, and services are provided first-come, first-served.

The clinic is not an emergency facility, and no procedures are performed there. Patients who need a procedure such as having blood drawn for lab work are referred to other clinics. The results of the lab work are sent to Dr. Riley at the clinic, and the clinic pays the lab fees.

The primary services provided are diagnoses of illnesses and provision of non-controlled prescription medications. The clinic includes a charitable pharmacy licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy, and medications are donated by nursing homes and the Good Shepherd Health Clinic.

If a clinic patient needs emergency treatment, the clinic staff calls for an ambulance. For non-emergency conditions that need to be treated quickly but require more treatment than is provided at the clinic, referral appointments are made for the patient right away.  

The First Baptist Church Free Health Clinic occupies three spaces at 1503 E. Okmulgee Ave. It is open from 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays, and Dr. Riley is there from 4 to 7 p.m. The first hour of operation provides time for patients to complete necessary paperwork. The clinic collects all standard medical history information for each patient and keeps patient records confidential and secure.

The clinic sees 25 to 30 patients on a typical Monday evening, and seldom are patients turned away. The clinic’s record for the most patients seen on a single evening is 45.

 Clinic Director Robert Mix says the clinic is always looking for new volunteers, especially nurses and doctors. Volunteers need not be members of First Baptist Church and do not have to commit to ongoing service. Even one-time volunteers can be a big help.

The clinic strives to offer a friendly Christian environment for both staff and patients. The clinic is closed on holidays to give volunteers time off, and First Baptist Church’s Sunday school classes take turns providing food for staff and patients each Monday afternoon.

For information about the clinic’s services or how to become a volunteer, call Robert Mix at (918) 683-1670 or send email to robrmix@hotmail.com.

To recommend an organization or program for a column, call Rebecca Walkup at (918) 683-4600.

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