Clinic Offers Primary Care for Uninsured Patients
Illness and accidents happen to everyone sooner or later. Thankfully, health insurance helps cover costs associated with maintaining your well-being — whether you break a bone or need medication to manage high blood pressure. Unfortunately, insurance and timely medical care are out of reach for millions of Americans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.4 million Americans were uninsured in 2018. Uninsured people not only receive less medical care but also experience greater financial stress and worse health outcomes than insured individuals. Some communities are finding new ways to make sure everyone receives the primary care they need.
Medical Care at No Cost in Mississippi
In Jackson, Mississippi, health care professionals provide much-needed care for low-income and uninsured populations. A partnership between Mississippi Baptist Medical Center and Mission First, a nonprofit community center, helps patients in Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties receive medical and spiritual care.
“There are people in our city and in central Mississippi who don’t have insurance or a regular family doctor,” said Lee Thigpen, executive director at Mission First. “They can’t get lab tests done because they cost too much. For 19 years, the clinic at Mission First has allowed us to minister to these individuals — from older teenagers to senior adults.”
Located in the renovated Rosedown apartment complex, Mission First operates with professional medical staff who volunteer their time to perform physical exams and routine lab tests. They also help uninsured patients manage chronic problems.
“We are able to improve our patients’ health by controlling their high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol,” said Dr. Samuel Peeples, internal medicine physician at Baptist Premier Medical Clinic and volunteer provider at Mission First. “In numerous cases, we have greatly lowered their risk of major events. That’s been very gratifying.”
Many patients who seek health care at Mission First are in between jobs or transitioning back into the workforce after incarceration or rehabilitation programs. According to Dr. Paul VanLandingham, primary care physician at Baptist Premier Medical Clinic, the partnership with the hospital has had life-changing results.
“What really changed the clinic at Mission First was its partnership with Mississippi Baptist Medical Center for ancillary services, such as lab tests and X-rays,” said VanLandingham, who has volunteered at the clinic since 1999. “Their support helps us fill a need in the community by offering quality primary care to 1,800 patients each year.”
In addition to a medical clinic, Mission First also has a full-service general dentistry clinic, legal aid office, after-school programming, sports and an early learning center.
“There are many ministries under one roof at Mission First,” said Peeples. “It has helped transform the entire neighborhood. A blighted community has been resurrected, in a sense, because of the clinic and ministries surrounding it.”
At Mission First, spiritual health goes hand-in-hand with physical health. Clinic staff members minister to patients’ spiritual needs by sharing the love of Christ and praying with patients.
“Ours is a mission based on Christian healing,” said Thigpen. “Like Baptist, we care about spiritual health along with physical health. We celebrate the hospital, foundation and volunteers because without them, we couldn’t do what we’re doing.”
Uninsured residents of Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties who are interested in visiting Mission First for health or legal services need to schedule an appointment. Please contact the clinic online or call 601-608-0050.