Three years later, the Good Shepherd Clinic is still providing free medical care to people in a financially tenuous position.
The walk-in clinic, operating at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Spearfish, serves Northern Hills residents who lack health insurance and meet qualifying income eligibility but don't qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, veterans assistance, Indian Health Services or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
It opens at 6 p.m. most Mondays and treats up to 22 eligible patients each week. Since the clinic opened in February of 2009, it has provided more than 1,500 patient visits and written more than 2,000 medication scripts.
The all-volunteer staff consists of a total of 16 physicians, physician assistants, certified nursing assistants and nurse practitioners and 140 other volunteers from the Northern Hills and the Rapid City area trained to meet clinical operations and administrative needs.
Good Shepherd Clinic actively strives to deter emergency room visits and costs, said Susan Konstant, president of the clinic. More than four years ago, an anonymous donor motivated the clinic's mission with a donation that launched the clinic, she said.
The clinic anticipates a budget of about $50,000 annually when operating at full capacity.
"Almost 50 percent of the patients the clinic treats have serious chronic illnesses that, if left untreated, would magnify their health care issues, thus contributing to even more significant costs to society," Konstant said.
She said patients who use the clinic have come to trust it; half of the patients are return visitors.
The clinic has established relationships with Regional Health facilities for laboratory work and X-rays, among other services, and it works with pharmacies at Walmart and Safeway to give patients a clear treatment path beyond the clinic's doors. Partnerships with other nonprofit organizations, foundations, service clubs and healthcare professionals also have been important.
"Most patients have many issues beyond their presenting medical problems. In a given month, the patients are referred to between 20 and 40 other agencies [or] programs that may potentially be of assistance," said Kay Cox, vice president of the clinic's board. The clinic has offered more than 300 referrals since it opened, she said.
The clinic treats patients with common ailments, such as colds, as well as those with significant, life-threatening or disability-inducing diseases.
"The Good Shepherd Clinic allows us to identify conditions and respond with compassion while alleviating the financial concerns, since our patients are already bearing the burden illness and its associated worries," said Dr. Forrest Brady, medical director at the clinic.
Contact Aaron Orlowski at 484-7069 or email@example.com