Friday, August 31, 2012

(91) Description of the French Five Hundred Free Clinic in Gallipolis, Ohio

       This is an expanded version of the French 500 Free Clinic brochure for anyone interested in more detail and greater depth.  For a brief history of the Free Clinic, see the previous blog.

 Remy Simon at the reception desk with volunteers 
Polly Wetherholt and Betty Horan in the background.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FRENCH 500 FREE CLINIC

258 Pinecrest Road
P.O. Box 44
Gallipolis, Ohio 45631
740-446-0021
e-mail: french500freeclinic@yahoo.com

Mission Statement
The French Five Hundred Free Clinic is committed to providing compassionate, caring, and comprehensive medical care at no cost, to the uninsured patients or populace 18 years old and above of our communities that we serve in Gallia County. We complete our mission with volunteers, who give their time freely to serve the community. Our medical staff includes experienced licensed physicians and nurses.

Vision
To provide quality health care services to the uninsured populace of our communities in Gallia County.

Values
Quality Care, Professionalism, Commitment, Excellence, Teamwork.

Officers
President: Dr. Mel Simon
Vice President: Paul R. Sebastian Ph.D.
Treasurer: Anthony Gallagher
Secretary: Joanne Elliott R.N.

        Operations. The Free Clinic is open on the last Thursday of each month from 1 pm to 4 pm, excluding holidays and inclement weather that would cause the schools to close.

       The Clinic is staffed by experienced physicians, registered nurses, a chiropractor, a social worker, a counselor, and other volunteers. Our patients are examined and treated by licensed medical practitioners and professionals, including a urologist. Each doctor is assisted by a registered nurse.

    When necessary, our physicians and medical facility refer patients to an appropriate specialist. We assist patients with lab work and prescriptions. However, the Clinic does not dispense pain medications. An experienced counselor and a social worker are also available.

         Being very dependent upon donations and volunteers, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to our donors in addition to our patients. Therefore, we try to be as transparent as reasonably possible in our operations and accounting. We are open to answering any questions you may have and provide our financial statements which are audited by the Accounting Department of the Holzer Medical Center. Currently the Clinic is preparing to becoming a member of the Ohio Association of Free Clinics (OAFC), consisting of 41 free clinics. Their website is www.ohiofreeclinics.org. The French 500 Free Clinic is a non profit corporation under the laws of the State of Ohio and an IRS 501 (c)(3) Code organization.

       Accomplishments to Date. In our first three years of operation since August 2009, the Clinic has served a total of 986 patients, for an average of 28 patients per session and continues to grow. In January 2012 the number peaked at 49. Many of the total are repeat patients in need of consistent health care.

          In one case, one of our doctors diagnosed a patient with atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) and immediately sent her to the hospital. This action probably saved her life.

Tony Gallagher and Dr. Mel Simon in one of the examination rooms.
         Our facilities include a comfortable waiting room, a reception desk, and seven furnished examination rooms. In the future we hope to obtain with the help of donations basic diagnostic equipment, such as more examination tables, stethoscopes, blood pressure monitors, reflex hammers, pen lights, diabetic strips, dip sticks, an othoscope, ophthalmoloscope, etc.

          Other projects on the horizon include securing dental equipment and ultimately a permanent facility. All of these projects will be completed through the generous donations our clinic receives.


Four nurse volunteers of the French 500 Free Clinic from left to right:  
Evangeline Gugacus, Debbie Beegle, Beverly Voss, and Lydia Simon.


Testimonials By Patients That We Have Served
  • After being laid off from my job of 32 years and suddenly being with no income and no health insurance, I was glad to hear about the free clinic. I appreciate all of the people who volunteer their professional services. Now there is hope for people in need of medical help. Once again thank you. (Robin Shaver)
  • The free clinic was a blessing from God when I was sick. The doctors and volunteers gave their services to help the people in need. I thank God for these people of kindness and love, willing to help the sick. Come; they can help! It's the best in town. (Earnest R. Cook)
  • My jobs have not offered insurance and I have a lot of health problems. I try home remedies and just put up with the pain. Overwhelmed with pain, I went to the free clinic and felt welcome. In the waiting room I noticed a certain look on everyone's face pleased that someone cared. Gallia County is blessed to have so many lovely people, who care enough to give their time and money for others. I am thankful. (Charlene Carter)
  • I am a single mother in a job that provides no insurance. My high blood pressure was really upsetting. I didn't know what to do until I heard about the free clinic. I was really shocked by the friendly, kind, and very helpful people who devote their time to help. I am very thankful for these people who helped me to get my medical problem under control. I think that Gallia County could use more of these free clinics for people that don't have any type of insurance. (Deborah McAllister)

Directions to the French 500 Free Clinic
        From Gallipolis, take State Route 160 which runs into Jackson Pike in front of the Holzer Medical Center. Proceed about a mile, passing by Spring Valley. Turn right at the Arbors Nursing Rehab and Hillcrest Clinic signs. Go one block and turn right. Then bear left onto the first driveway up a hill to the parking lot. The Free Clinic occupies part of the Hillcrest Clinic. The next building is the Arbors Nursing Home.

(90) French 500 Free Clinic (Gallipolis, Ohio) Celebrates Its Third Anniversary of Operations

AMDG

        Yesterday, August 30 the French 500 Free Clinic celebrated its third anniversary of operations. Coincidentally on this same day, the Clinic treated its one thousandth patient, Alina Colwell. Below is the text of the talk that I gave after the clinic during the little celebration attended by our volunteers, friends, and local dignitaries.   It received front page coverage in the August 31 issue of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.  Please note the post script or epilogue to the talk at the end of it below.  Following that are the closing remarks of the President of the French 500 Free Clinic, Dr. Mel Simon.  But first view a videotaped testimony of a patient and description of the clinic for an overall view.  Simply click on http://vimeo.com/44178623


Paul Sebastian and Betty Horan on the left and Dr. Mel Simon on the right with Alina Colwell, the one thousandth patient served at the French 500 Free Clinic which coincided with its third anniversary.



A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FRENCH 500 FREE CLINIC

       It all started with an idea in February 2009 while conversing with Dr. Mel Simon when he was preparing for his annual medical mission to his country of birth, the Philippine Islands. He has organized 29 of them since 1985. I recalled how the American Maryknoll missionaries would organize parishes in Peru and set up small clinics for the poor with donated equipment and medications under the direction of an American lay volunteer nurse or nun. She would do the work of a nurse practitioner under the supervision of a Peruvian doctor. I wondered: “Would that model of a neighborhood clinic work for the uninsured in Gallia County who cannot afford medical insurance?” That would be a lot more efficient than a bureaucratic trillion dollar government program and fill a great need.

         I presented the idea to Dr. Simon and he jumped on it as the prime mover in making this idea a reality in Gallia County. He called a number of his friends, especially from the Rotary Club to attend an organizational meeting. A number of our volunteers are Rotarians who have a real spirit of community service. We elected officers, made assignments, formed committees, and we were on a new enterprise, never tried before in Gallia County and surroundings. We established by-laws for our fledgling organization and Shirley Doss obtained for us our official status as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the state of Ohio, exempt from federal income tax under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Joanne Elliott RN, her husband, and Tony Gallagher visited other clinics in the area and obtained ideas.

      We received donations of equipment, medications, and working capital from different community organizations and individuals. The greatest material help of all was that Dr. Mel and Lydia Simon, his building manager gave us the use of half of their Hillcrest Clinic rent free that their daughter-in-law, Dr. Tess Simon previously occupied. That meant an ideal building in which to work. Yet with all of that, our enterprise would never have gotten off the ground without our core of dedicated volunteers.......doctors, nurses, and other professionals, such as Kay Allbright, a social worker sent by the Area Agency for the Aging; Rev. John Jackson who does counseling for us. for counseling, etc.

         The Gallipolis Daily Tribune occasionally gives us coverage even on the front page, thus a big help in attracting patients, donors, and volunteers. Before the last Thursday of every month, Bette Horan and Polly Wetherholt, our publicity arms, make sure that the newspaper reminds the community of our clinic with a little blurb. By August 2009 we received our first patients and our venture was off and running.

         Joanne Elliott, our secretary, was really our Chief of Staff and office manager who kept things going in the Clinic...... having set up a system for receiving patients and record keeping, a small pharmacy, and assigning volunteers, whose help with it all was indispensable. Tony Gallagher has been a real go getter with administration and obtaining donations. Bonnie McFarland RN, so involved in Holzer's outreach to the community, arranged for the hospital's collaboration with diagnostic tests and blood work. Jan Davison, as treasurer, paid the bills and kept the books. With the approval of Ken Payne, the Vice President of Finance of the Holzer Medical Center, Pat Clark audits our books to assure effective accountability to our donors. Karrie Swain Davison of the Holzer Health System Marketing Department, did a great job in putting together our brochure despite being so busy with their merger.

       The heart of our mission and its operations is the doctors and the nurses who assist them. Many physicians have helped, but Doctors Mel Simon, Dick Simpson, Nabil Fahmy, Jimmy Nuggud, and Reid Brubaker have been particularly faithful. Dr. Jolie Bitner, our chiropractor, was very popular, especially among the Amish, who spread the word in their community. A few specialists, as Dr. Thomas Blodgett, have treated our referrals in their offices or are willing to do the same. Among the nurses, Beverly Voss, Carol Curry, Connie McGlothen, Evangeline Gagucas, Debbie Beagle, and Jaga Sebastian usually came. Active full time nurses such as Sandy Walker would come whenever they could. Barbara Epling, Lydia and Remy Simon were almost always there to help. Ohio Valley Home Health helps with taking vitals, i.e., medical history. There are many others who have also contributed. Forgive me if I slighted anyone. So you can see how so many wonderful people make our Free Clinic work.

       We passed another major milestone today. Just over an hour ago the Free Clinic treated its one thousandth patient in its three years of operations. At each session we treat as many as 46 patients for an average of 28 each afternoon. We would like to expand and be open once a week, instead of once a month. But that depends upon community support in donations and demand for our services. Most of all we need more doctors to volunteer whether active or retired. Doctors are the most difficult to recruit. Help us to spread the word.
        May this type of community health care be a model for counties everywhere since there is a certain power and synergy in the people of the Community working together and mobilizing its own resources to solve its common problems instead of depending upon inefficient, bureaucratic, and impersonal multi-billion dollar programs of paternalistic Big Government.

        Thank you so much for all of your help and support. It is each and everyone of you who make this opportunity to serve our community possible. May God bless all of you and your work.

        Post Script.  In my talk I completely overlooked the most important factor of all in our work.  I thanked everyone except God.  From the very start in February 2009, we begin and end each clinic and each meeting of our Executive Board with a prayer.  Many if not most of our volunteers are motivated by their deep Christian Faith......from Baptist to Lutheran to Catholic.  They believe that every person has a tremendous dignity because they are created according to the image and likeness of God.  Anything we do to neighbor we do to Christ as the Gospels point out.  Faith based organizations and people of faith have made our communities and our Country great from its very founding.  We pray to God for His help and guidance, but when success comes, we tend to congratulate ourselves and take all of the credit, forgetting that our successes ultimately come from God.  I am the most guilty with such ingratitude.  Thank you Lord for all that you have done for our free clinic. 

           For more details on the history of the French 500 Free Clinic with photos, click on any of the following:

-1st Anniversary 2010: http://www.mydailytribune.com/view/full_story/9234124/article-French-500-Free-Clinic--Year-of-service-to-Gallia-Co--celebrated

-November 2011:http://www.mydailytribune.com/view/full_story/15221396/article-Free-French-500-Clinic-serves-Gallia-County%E2%80%99s-uninsured

http://vimeo.com/44178623

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2011/10/dr-mel-simon-career-serving-god-his.html

<p>Dr. Mel Simon, one of the founders of the French 500 Free Clinic, spoke briefly to the crowd of community members and dignitaries during Thursday&#8217;s anniversary event. Simon also presented certificates of appreciation to the doctors, nurses and volunteers that have helped to build and sustain the popular practice.</p>

Dr. Mel Simon, President of the French 500 Free Clinic addresses local dignitaries and community members at the occasion of the Third Anniversary of the Clinic.  Later he presented certificates of appreciation to the doctors, nurses, and other volunteers who have served.

CLOSING REMARKS ON THE 3RD ANNIVERSARY - 30 AUGUST 2012
By Dr. Mel Simon


           IT IS A UNIVERSAL LAW  THAT  WE HAVE TO GIVE BEFORE WE RECEIVE. AS A FARMER MYSELF I KNOW THAT WE MUST PLANT THE SEEDS BEFORE WE REAP THE HARVEST. THE MORE WE SOW, THE MORE WE REAP.  AND GIVING TO OTHERS, WE FIND OUR SELVES BLESSED. THE LAW WORKS TO GIVE US BACK MORE THAN WE HAVE SOWN. THE GIVERS’ HARVEST IS ALWAYS FULL. (UNLESS OF COURSE THE WEATHER GO AGAINST IT)

            WE AT  THE FRENCH 500 FREE CLINIC  UNMISTAKEABLY PONDER TO CHART FOR THE FUTURE AS WE ARE ON THE THRESHOLD OF ASSESSING WHERE WE ARE TODAY.  I AM REMINDED OF ONE GREAT  AND ELOQUENT AMERICAN,  ADLAI STEVENSON WHEN HE SAID  “WE CAN CHART OUR FUTURE CLEARLY AND WISELY WHEN WE KNOW THE PATH WHICH HAD LED TO THE PRESENT.”



            IT IS THEREFORE ESSENTIAL FOR ALL OF US TO LOOK BACK AND AS WE DO THAT, I RECALL THAT WINSTON CHURCHILL ONCE SAID, “THE FARTHER BACKWARD WE LOOK, THE FARTHER FORWARD YOU ARE LIKELY TO SEE.”  BUT WE AT THE FRENCH 500 FREE CLINIC ARE YOUNG AND FLEDGLING AND WE NEED NOT LOOK FARTHER BACK.



           THAT BRINGS US TO VISION. VISION  IS THE GIFT OF SEEING CLEARLY WHAT MAY BE. VISION EXPANDS OUR HORIZONS. THE MORE WE SEE, THE MORE WE CAN ACHIEVE, THE GRANDER OUR VISION, THE MORE GLORIOUS OUR ACCOMPLISHMENT.  FOR THE COURAGE TO FOLLOW OUR DREAMS IS THE FIRST STEP TO OUR DESTINY.



           AND SO MY VISION FOR THE FRENCH 500 FREE CLINIC FOR THE FUTURE: FIRST, TO BE ABLE TO STAND UP ON ITS OWN PHYSICALLY AND FINANCIALLY  IN ORDER TO CONTINUE  ITS GREAT HUMANITARIAN GOAL AND ENDEAVOR TO HELP THE SICK AND UNINSURED;  AND  SECOND, TO ADD MORE CLINIC DAYS AS WELL AS ANCILLARY SERVICES IN ORDER TO EFFICIENTLY USE ITS  FACILITY.  AND THIRD, TO ADD MORE VOLUNTEER PHYSICIANS AND PERSONNEL.  WILL  THESE  BE POSSIBLE?   YES.



           ON ITS OWN?  NO.   WILL IT NEED RICHES AND WEALTH FROM OUTSIDE? YES. BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT,  THE OTHER KIND  OF RICHES AND WEALTH PROFOUNDLY LIE WITHIN US, NOT IN MATERIAL POSSESSIONS.  FOR WE  AT THE FRENCH 500 FREE CLINIC, OUR REAL RICHES  AND WEALTH LIE IN OUR  HEAD, HEART, AND SOUL.  AND  THE SATISFACTION COMES FROM APPRECIATING WHAT WE HAVE. FOR  WEALTH WITHOUT ENJOYMENT IS LITTLE CONSOLATION. OUR REAL PROSPERITY LIES IN BEING THANKFUL. 



       SO IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, WE ARE THANKFUL TO GOD OUR SAVIOR AND ALMIGHTY FOR WHAT WE HAVE, FOR WHAT WE ARE ABLE TO DO, AND FOR WHAT WE ARE ABLE TO DREAM OF. AND WHO KNOWS THAT SOME DAY, SOMEHOW, SOMEWHERE, WE WILL BE ABLE TO REACH THAT DREAM AND VISION WITH THE HELP OF OUR ALMIGHTY GOD’S GRACE.



        AND NOW IT IS MY HONOR AND PRIVILEGE TO AWARD THE FOLLOWING CERTIFICATE S OF RECOGNITION.

End/MPS


French 500 Free Clinic celebrates third anniversary
 From the Gallipolis Daily Tribune Front Page of August 31, 2012 and its website at www.mydailytribune.com
by Stephanie M. Filson
Managing Editor, Gallipolis Daily Tribune
sfilson@heartlandpublications.com
 
1 month ago | 10462 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<p>Dr. Mel Simon, one of the founders of the French 500 Free Clinic, spoke briefly to the crowd of community members and dignitaries during Thursday&#8217;s anniversary event. Simon also presented certificates of appreciation to the doctors, nurses and volunteers that have helped to build and sustain the popular practice.</p>
Dr. Mel Simon, one of the founders of the French 500 Free Clinic, spoke briefly to the crowd of community members and dignitaries during Thursday’s anniversary event. Simon also presented certificates of appreciation to the doctors, nurses and volunteers that have helped to build and sustain the popular practice.
<p>Bonnie McFarland, Director of Community Wellness and Outreach for Holzer Health System, and French 500 Free Clinic volunteer Barb Epling cut and serve cake beautifully decorated by the Parkfront Diner.</p>






Bonnie McFarland, Director of Community Wellness and Outreach for Holzer Health System, and French 500 Free Clinic volunteer Barb Epling cut and serve cake beautifully decorated by the Parkfront Diner.
<p>The French 500 Free Clinic unveiled its new logo during the third anniversary event held in honor of its opening in August of 2009.</p>
The French 500 Free Clinic unveiled its new logo during the
third anniversary event held in honor of its opening August 27, 2009.

GALLIPOLIS — With well over 1.5 million uninsured residents in the state of Ohio, there lies an often unspoken but great need for free or inexpensive medical care — especially among rural, often underserved communities. In 2009, a local but worldly professor pitched an idea to a longtime local doctor and medical missionary to develop a plan to provide such a service right here in Gallia County.

Yesterday, the French 500 Free Clinic celebrated its third successful year with an open house celebration that honored the many who have helped make that dream of community service a reality — an accomplishment emphasized when the staff helped the Clinic’s one-thousandth patient just an hour before the event began.

The concept of a free clinic for uninsured Gallia Countians came when, in early 2009, University of Rio Grande professor Paul Sebastian relayed the idea to Dr. Mel Simon when he was preparing for his annual medical mission to his native country — the Phillipine Islands. Simon has organized 29 such missions since 1985.

According to Sebastian, Simon took a lead in driving the project and contacted friends, Rotarians and other volunteers in an effort to get organized. The group elected officers, formed committees and established bylaws, and under the direction of Shirley Doss, obtained official nonprofit status.

The French 500 Free Clinic was opened in August 2009, with the support of community donations, in the former office of Dr. Tess Simon, at its current location on Hillcrest Drive. That office space was generously provided free of charge through the generosity of Dr. Mel and Lydia Simon, who own the building.
The Clinic’s mission is clear: to provide comprehensive medical care at no cost to 18 years or older uninsured patients in Gallia County.

The event held Thursday served as a way for Simon to recognize all of the many volunteers who helped get the ambitious project off the ground. It also served as a springboard for the nonprofit into its future — and Simon and the French 500 Board have a very clear vision for it.

“Vision is the gift of seeing clearly what may be. The more we see, the more we can achieve,” said Simon. “The grander our vision, the more glorious our accomplishment.”

Simon said his vision for the free clinic includes three main goals:
• For it to be able to sustain itself physically and financially in order to continue its humanitarian goal and endeavor to help the sick and uninsured.
• To add more clinic days and ancillary services in order to efficiently use its facility.
• To add more volunteer physicians and personnel.

“The heart of our mission and its operations is the doctors and nurses who assist them,” said Sebastian, “but Doctors Mel Simon, Dick Simpson, Nabil Fahmy, Jimmy Nuggud and Reid Brubaker have been particularly faithful.”  He also named Dr. Jolie Bitner and Dr. Thomas Blodgett as partners, and praised the many nurses who support the volunteer effort month after month.

“At each session, we treat as many as 46 patients and an average of 28 patients,” said Sebastian. “We would like to expand and be open once a week instead of once a month, but that depends upon community support in donations and demand for our services.”

“Most of all, we need more doctors to volunteer, whether active or retired,” he added.

The free clinic is open on the last Thursday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m., excluding holidays and inclement weather severe enough to close area schools. The French 500 Free Clinic is located at 258 Pinecrest Road, Gallipolis. Fore more information, call 740-446-0023 or email french500freeclinic@yahoo.com.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

(89) A Eulogy for a Coal Miner and Farmer.......John "Mike" Hager

        As a Eucharistic Minister, I bring Holy Communion to the sick and the shut-ins. After a while, I get attached to them and get to know them. Over time they minister to me.......teaching and even inspiring me. Thus I would like to not only honor Mike Hager, but also share some of the things he can teach us.......especially his courage, his faith, resignation to God's will, and trust in His kind providence. Every life, from the rich and the famous to the common man, has a fascinating story to tell. Mike Hager is no exception and I tried to include a little bit of that.

A EULOGY FOR MIKE HAGER
Given at St. Louis Church August 16, 2012

        As an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, I had the opportunity to know Mike Hager in the last three years of his life. It was an awesome privilege to bring Christ Himself and His love to him in the Eucharist, i.e. Holy Communion; to pray with him and Rita; and to help him in a little way for his encounter with our Lord in eternity. At first, I actually came for Rita while Mike would also participate in the Communion Service. He liked to talk about sports and I like talking about sports. So I would stay there for a good while and Rita would patiently listen. At that time he seemed to be in robust health, running the family farm, rounding up the cows, driving the tractor, and taking care of Rita. But last year Mike took sick and Rita ended up taking care of Mike in a heroic way. They were so faithful to each other, for better and for worse.......an example for all of us. In addition their extended family pulled together to help them.

        I was supposed to minister to Mike, but Mike also ministered to me. He knew that his time on earth was growing short, but he faced it with courage and faith, patient resignation to God's will and trust in His kind providence. He had discovered the Catholic Faith through Rita and lived it. Mike loved his family dearly and so enjoyed talking about them. One of his biggest regrets was that he would not be able to see his grandsons play football this Fall, the game that he loved, having himself played for North Gallia High School and the Gallia County Disciples. I would like to think that he'll be watching his grandsons play and that they'll put in that extra effort for Grandpa.

        Mike was hurting and weak, deteriorating rapidly. I shared with him the fact that suffering can be very valuable, meaningful, and fruitful. If accepted in faith with trust in God, suffering can be a wonderful preparation for eternity. Taken in the right way, the inevitable crosses of life can make each one of us a saint. One priest observed: “Those who die of Cancer die like saints” since they have time to prepare. Every canonized saint suffered and even prayed to have more crosses. Many times I would say, “You can reap great fruits with your prayers and by offering your crosses to the Lord as a dynamic prayer for your loved ones, for the Church, and for our Country. God knows how much our country needs prayers. In that way you can be most valuable.” Indeed he was!

        Thank you Mike for serving our Country in the Army combat engineers in Viet Nam. Thank you for all of your hard work in the mines that supplied the coal to the power plants that kept our houses lit.

       Mike was ready and will be praying for us. Thank-you, Mike, for your example and for what you taught us. I'm sure you're having a joyful reunion with your lovely daughter Cathy. Good-by until we're all together again in eternity.

         In conclusion, please permit me to read a beautiful hand written poem that Mike kept from the Bidwell Elementary School, dated 1959 when he was 12 years old.

GOD'S PROMISE
God didn't promise:
Days without rain;
Laughter without sorrow;
Or sun without rain.
But God did promise:
Strength for the day;
Comfort for the tears
And a light for the way;
Rest from the labor;
Grace for the trials;
Help from above;
Unfailing sympathy;
Undying love.

        In the case of Mike and his beautiful ever faithful wife, God indeed kept that promise. May he rest in everlasting peace. Thank you.