by Bobby Anderson – staff writer/photographer
Dave Evans’ Thursday evening prayer floats down the hallway at Moore Faith Clinic.
Heads bowed in a circle for those who have gathered on this warm, late-May evening are taking a moment to remember why they’re here.
For Cristen Hartman, R.N., there’s no doubt.
“It was just meant to be,” says Hartman, who has been with the clinic since the beginning.
By day, Hartman works at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. She’s worked med-surg, oncology and ER in her career.
But on Thursday nights, she and scores of others volunteer their time at the free clinic.
“It was a perfect fit. Me and my family have always been into service and what are things we can do for the community,” Hartman says of her volunteer status. “Me and my husband grew up in Moore and met at Moore High School. Moore has always been our place.”
Three years ago Evans, a pastor at Moore’s Highland Baptist Church, and others had an idea.
Through his 25 years of ministry, he’s tended to his fair share of disaster relief in Moore. His kids grew up in in the city and have eight grand kids.
Five still go to Moore schools.
“I’ve done a lot of relief with other churches and ministry,” he said.
Through outreach Evans and other pastors identified a gaping need in their community.
“If you don’t have health insurance – and this is not a political statement it’s just a statement of fact – or if you’re underinsured … and you’ve got a (large) deductible it’s of no value,” Evans said. “Two years ago the average ER visit was $1,900. People can’t do that. Then it snowballs and their family is in crisis.”
Time and again Evans has seen injuries create financial hardship, leading to stress and strain on families and marriages.
So what could be done?
“The Lord said to me ‘Why don’t you do something about it,’” Evans said. “We prayed about it for a few months and everybody said let’s go for it.”
The clinic is housed in the Serve Moore Community Renewal Center, 224 S. Chestnut Ave.
Each Thursday from 5:30-8 p.m. Moore Faith Clinic opens its doors.
Once a month a women’s clinic is offered.
Last year, the clinic served 900 patients and handed out approximately $1 million in medication.
“All free,” Evans said. “It’s kind of a big deal that’s not very well known. This is the only totally free clinic in Cleveland County.”
Hartman’s church made an announcement one Sunday that caught her ear. Nurses were needed to get this idea off the ground.
“It’s a huge difference,” said Hartman, who coordinates the nurses. “I think you just don’t really know the magnitude of who really needs you. You don’t really see the magnitude of those that don’t have care that I totally take for granted.”
Evans sees it.
“I think a lot of families are in crisis or would be in a much bigger crisis if they didn’t have health care or access to medicine and the ability to treat something treatable,” Evans said. “So many people have diabetes or strep throat or high blood pressure or whatever. Those things left untreated are bad.”
“We can do it. We can help people, coach them and encourage them.”
Nurses and physicians treat. Pharmacists dispense medication. Pastors and volunteers tend to spiritual needs.
Case workers are available to plug patients into long-term assistance.
Upwards of 20 patients with appointments come through the doors each week with a handful of those just showing up with nowhere to turn.
It indeed takes a village to make the clinic run.
“We don’t want to burn anybody out. Cristen is here every week and she doesn’t have to be,” Evans said. “She’s here because she wants to make sure we have continuity of care and we’re doing things the same way consistently.”
“We can always use nurses,” Hartman continued. “A lot of times we’ll have nurses that are really gung-ho and say they’ll come every Thursday. No, please don’t because it’s not going to work for most people. Volunteering even though it’s one night a week is a huge commitment so we do see a lot of turnover.”
Moore Faith Clinic operates extremely lean.
The annual budget runs around $16,000 which Evans says largely goes to wholesale pharmaceutical purchases.
Medication samples from companies are accepted for the group’s regulated pharmacy.
To make an appointment you can call 405-759-0853 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
You can also contact Evans or Hartman at the same number to find out about volunteering.