The following is an interview with Mark Schroeder, director of Trinity Community Care, an outreach of Trinity, Utica which offers free medical and dental care.
MIT: How did all this begin?
The seeds for this clinic were sown more than 20 years ago as many of our team provided medical care in the barrios of Venezuela, the remote mountain regions of Guatemala, and many areas of Haiti. Over that time, we’ve built a large group of medical and dental professionals with a passion for service.
What brought this home for us is that, at the same time, Trinity, the home congregation for several of our founders, started providing a hot meal, a place to take a shower, and a place of respite every Sunday for the homeless and income challenged in our community. That ministry really opened our eyes to the needs of people all around us who are easily missed — those in plain sight: the neighbor who lost their job and their insurance; the person who works but doesn’t have insurance and can’t afford it; those who do have insurance but have deductibles so high they can’t afford the care they need; and also the homeless who’ve learned to stay out of sight. Those of us who have served overseas realized that, if we can help in other countries, we should also help those in our own community who need medical and dental care. We had the personnel, the knowledge, and the passion. We felt it was time to act.
MIT: What were your next steps?
In 2010, we began the journey to open a free clinic. The next several years were spent learning what it would take to start a free medical and dental clinic in the Utica area.
Along the way, we were blessed with a small army of individuals and organizations donating their time, materials, and resources in areas such as planning, construction, administration, and dental and medical know-how. Trinity Community Care opened to patients in December 2013.
MIT: What kind of support do you have?
We’ve been blessed with the contributions of many individuals, as well as grants from WheatRidge Foundation, Motown Soup, and several others. Significantly, Beaumont Hospital has provided funds and supplies, as well as help with lab and imaging services to our patients. We are grateful and humbled by Beaumont’s generosity.
In addition, all of our practitioners and support staff are currently volunteers.
Although we are a separate 501c3, Trinity has been an enormous supporter and has blessed us with many resources and financial support.
MIT: Who is your target group of people?
With the Affordable Care Act in place, you might ask if this clinic is needed. The truth is, gaps will remain. Even the CBO estimates that 30 million people will remain uninsured after full implementation, up to 500,000 in Michigan alone. Dental care, case management, and health education are not among essential health benefits of the ACA. New gaps will likely emerge. As a free clinic, we’ll be able to take the time to help people navigate through the system and help them enroll in the options that are available to them. We’ll be able to spend the time with our patients and help them make the changes needed for better health. And we’ll have the social services connections needed to accompany them. Almost every day, we get requests from people who need help with their medical and dental needs. These are people we can help, and therefore, people that I believe we should help. Trinity Community Care will strive to fill those gaps by fulfilling its mission of providing free medical and dental care to those who cannot afford it, delivered with unconditional Christian love, so that we can connect people to health and wellness.
MIT: Have you seen any impact on the congregation as a result of this wonderful initiative?
Trinity has certainly been very supportive of the idea and has blessed us with ongoing financial support that covers our rent. Our volunteers come from Trinity and from a variety of other places – other churches, Beaumont Hospital residents, others in the health care field who want to give back.
Trinity takes it as a joyful obligation to our faith to fulfill the mission to the local community: “… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40, NIV).
MIT: What services do you offer at the clinic?
We offer free medical and dental care for those who qualify. We use 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines as our maximum income level.
MIT: What are the clinic’s hours of operation?
Our medical clinic is open from 1-4 p.m. on the first and third Sundays of the month. Our dental clinic is open from 1-4 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. We are also open during the week for eligibility screenings. All visits are by appointment only.
MIT: Maybe some of our readers know someone who could benefit from these services. How can people get an appointment?
People can call us at 586.649.3014, or visit www.trinitycommunitycare.org.
Featured image caption: Dr. Kimberly Kress, a volunteer, listens to a patient’s heart at the Community Clinic.