March 7, 2014 11:13:24 AM
Once a week, a group of local doctors help the working poor in Lowndes County.
The Good Samaritan Clinic in Columbus on Main Street gives medical care to those in the community who would not be able to afford it otherwise. Kathy Tentoni, executive director for the clinic, spoke to the Exchange Club at Lion Hills Country Club on Thursday to explain who the clinic helps.
"We are working for the uninsured or temporarily unemployed in Lowndes County," Tentoni said.
Started by Dr. Alan Williams and Dr. James Woodard in 2000, the non-profit clinic has an active patient roll of 315. Tentoni said the majority of patients have complaints of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Patients are not charged.
The clinic rents their current building from First United Methodist Church for $1 a year. Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle has provided nearly $50,000 in grants and donated a majority of the clinic's equipment. Several local churches donate money on a monthly basis. Dr.
Robert White provides the patient's medication at a loss. Local dentists also volunteer to see patients who are in desperate need of dental work but can't afford it.
"Sometimes it will take two or three visits just for a cleaning," Tentoni said.
In order to receive care, patients must show a current utility bill, two recent paycheck stubs, a W-2 form, social security card and answer questions about how many people are in the household and whether they receive any type of government assistance. If patients are on disability or Medicaid, they are not eligible for the clinic.
Tentoni said patients are the working class in Lowndes County.
"They work at hotels, restaurants," she said. "These are the people who make minimum wage."
Dentist Dr. Steve Porter said he volunteers at the clinic so he can give back to the community.
"The clinic meets the need of a group of people that can't get that need met," he said. "Dental care is something everybody needs so we're glad to provide it. We're able to give to the community. I always thought that was something that I needed to do so that's a way we can give, give of our talents and give of our service."
Tentoni said the clinic could always use more donations but they have been "blessed" with the number of local doctors who work at the clinic.
"We have been truly blessed," she said.
The clinic is open on Thursday. Appointments are required. If you would like to donate to the clinic, call Tentoni at 662-244-0044.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.