Agency provides health care to working uninsured adults

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Bethesda Health Clinic, at 409 W. Ferguson St., opened Sept. 6, 2003. The faith-based clinic was established to provide affordable health care to working uninsured adults.

The name "Bethesda" means house of mercy in Hebrew, and founders of the health clinic have said they felt the name was appropriate for their mission.

According to chapter five of Book of John, Bethesda was a pool near Jerusalem that healed the sick when the water was stirred by an angel.

Once designated for Smith County adults, the clinic has served some people from surrounding counties. Patients learn about the clinic by word of mouth or from a referral. Primary care needs, dental care, nutrition classes, diabetes education and prescription assistance are among the services offered.

By the end of the first year, the clinic had 4,400 patient visits. This year, they've had 18,500 patient visits. There have been 2,650 dental visits, up from 300 in 2011, and the clinic has had 2,600 nutrition program participants.
Patients typically pay between $10 and $30 for services and nutrition classes are free.

Bethesda Health Clinic is largely supported by donors and volunteers. This year, they've garnered more than 25,000 volunteer hours.

The clinic has had $1.9 million in donated medications through a partnership with the PATH patient assistance program.

Its budget is $1,876,613, with no funding from any government agency. Of their funding, 22 percent comes from individuals/couples; 37 percent from patient fees; 12 percent from special events; 6 percent from businesses; 6 percent from churches; 15 percent from local foundations; and 2 percent from other sources.

John English, the clinic's executive director, said they are able to operate because of their faith and faith in the community.

"It's hard to underestimate the value of that volunteer service," he said. "You have people coming (who are) so caring and willing to do it. I think our staff feels called to be here."


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