Free clinic provides hope and health to community

Pink eye, strep throat, influenza, pneumonia, eczema.

For the uninsured like Nathalia Giraldo, simple medical diagnosis and remedies are hard to find, Dr. Gregg Albers main physician at the Ruth Brooks Free Clinic, as well as one of the main physicians at Light Medical agrees.

Awaiting treatment — Individuals without insurance are welcome at the Ruth Brooks Free Clinic. Dominique McKay

Free clinics are a scarce commodity in the Lynchburg area, Albers explained.

“We are technically the only free ‘free clinic’ because all of the other clinics have various charges associated with them,” Albers said.

The Ruth Brooks Free Clinic was created two years ago, in honor of Ruth Brooks, a longtime nurse at Liberty’s health services and Thomas Road Baptist Church member, who died of breast cancer.

“Ruth Brooks was our first clinic nurse about 28 years ago. Through the years we have known Ruth and Don Brooks, she has always been a part of our medical practice and lives,” Albers said. “When we lost her, we felt we needed to do something to honor her. We had been thinking about a free clinic, and it seemed fitting.”

Located in the nurses office of Liberty Christian Academy, the clinic has seen nearly 1,200 patients with a variety of different ailments since its founding.

“Our clinic has pretty much no restrictions,” Albers said. “We say if you have no doctor, have no insurance, have no money to buy medication, then you are welcome to come and use our services.”

There are a number of students who don’t have any insurance and who come to the clinic, Albers explained.

“I felt so relieved to know that there was somewhere I could finally go,” Giraldo said. “It’s never a pleasant thought to know there’s something wrong with you but you cannot find out what it is, specially just because of money.”

Giraldo has been battling with eye issues for the past two weeks and, before hearing about the clinic, had no other outlet in which to turn.

“Even if they’re not specialists and probably cannot tell me exactly what’s wrong with my eye, they will still be some kind of help,” Giraldo said. “It is nice to know there’s a place I could go and get checked out.”

Although there has not been any sort of advertising due to a lack of space in the past, Albers said they are looking to start to spread the word about the clinic.

“We are considering possibly getting a van that is clinic equipped and having a few sites around Lynchburg. That would allow us to reach the community,” Albers said.

Although the clinic is designed to help reach the community’s physical needs, it is also a tool for evangelism.

“We use scripture when we are talking to patients,” Albers said. “The Holy Spirit helps us to meet their spiritual needs.”

According to Albers, the affect of the new healthcare system will simply bring more people like Giraldo to the clinic.

“My guess is because they did not reduce the cost of health care, which was their primary goal, many more people will probably lose their healthcare,” Albers said. “We have, shall we say, a very unbalanced system right now. Many more people are going to need us.”

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