A new clinic to serve the health care needs of people with little or no insurance coverage opened in DeSoto County.
Trinity Health Center, a not-for-profit organization that uses donations and volunteers to serve lower income residents of the county, opened for business after 41 months of preparation. After overcoming obstacles that come with opening a health care facility — especially in a pandemic — the clinic opened its doors to serve county residents.
Before the clinic opened, a team assessed the needs of the community to determine which services should be provided. The team found that — even as the county is a hub of commerce for the state — 17% of county residents were uninsured and 10% of residents live below the poverty line, meaning a family of four would have a total income of less than $24,600 per year.
Often, those financial needs lead to a need for health care.
“People will pay their rent and feed their children before they will go to the doctor,” Betty Carson, director of operations at Trinity Health Center, said. “We had one patient who literally became tearful, as she was leaving and said, ‘I've not been able to get any health care. I'd actually been praying for what I was going to do to take care of my health, and saw this information about Trinity and came.’”
Dr. Patrick Ball, the medical director of Trinity Health Center, said that some patients have nowhere else to go, adding that there is more need in DeSoto County than might be expected.
The clinic follows a model first created by Church Health in Memphis, a church-funded clinic to provide care for people with low incomes. The model, which has been replicated across the country, is now coming to DeSoto County in Trinity Health Center.
Families are charged on a sliding scale based on federal poverty guidelines. There is a minimum cost of $25, but some people may pay only 10% of the cost of the visit.
The clinic does not take any financial support from the government, instead opting to get funding from local churches. Currently, Life Fellowship Church and Brown Baptist Church are funding the clinic.
The clinic aims to serve people who are working at least 24 hours per week, as well as students and primary caretakers.
“We really want to be able to say yes to people more than no,” Carson said. “So I'm encouraging anybody who hears about us, even if it sounds like you may not fit (into the requirements), call us and make sure.”
Carson said the clinic is trying to be a medical home for people in the county — especially those who are managing chronic diseases. The impacts of untreated chronic diseases can compound over time, making long-term treatment vital for overall health.
At the heart of the clinic, there is a desire to give the highest quality of care to people who sometimes have difficulty finding any care whatsoever.
“When you're in the lower income population, they assume that they're not as valuable because their income is tied to their worth,” Tina Smith, the nurse practitioner at the clinic said. “We want to give them the best of care, both in the environment as well as resources, whatever we can give them so that they don't feel like they're treated any less than what someone with, you know, a large amount of money is. They're still treated with the same level of respect and care.”
Carson added that the clinic aims to offer patients with care comparable to the top clinics in the area.
“People walking in here should feel like they're walking in one of the best primary care clinics in the county,” she said.
The staff added that though they are a Christian organization, patients need not believe anything to get care. The clinic exists to give everyone exceptional care, regardless of faith, race, income level or sexuality, the staff said.
“All you’ve got to do is let us love you and take care of you,” Dr. Ball said.
Trinity Health Center is located in the DeSoto Dream Center, on 6935 Windchase Drive in Horn Lake. The clinic can be reached by phone at 662-830-3827.