In an effort to improve access to healthcare and reduce the infant mortality rate in Michigan, The Luke Project 52 Clinic launched a new mom-and-baby clinic to serve vulnerable populations in Detroit.
Rev. Brad Garrison, founder of the Luke Project 52 Clinic, says, “The whole idea for the Luke Project 52 Clinic originated with the FiveTwo Network. [Michigan District] President Maier asked me to go to the first bootcamp. The idea just germinated there and I worked on it for the next year or so; then, last summer, Family of God designated space in their church. We’re actually meeting in what would be the narthex of the church, where we built out a two-exam-room-and-reception-area clinic.”
The City of Detroit and the State of Michigan have significantly higher infant mortality rates than the nation as a whole (19.9 per 1,000 live births compared to a national average of 6.6). One of the contributing causes to the high infant mortality rate is the lack of prenatal instruction and care in underserved communities.
A major difficulty in many of these communities is achieving compliance in the keeping of follow-up appointments, which is why the clinic gives out “clinic coins” that can be redeemed for diapers, food, and maternity and infant clothing in banks that accompany the clinic. They also have a van that drives clients to and from the clinic. Patients who keep their follow-up appointments get a baby shower sponsored by the clinic upon delivery and, later, a first birthday celebration.
What the Clinic Offers
The volunteers at The Luke Project 52 Clinic strive to make their clinic day a community event that the people they are trying to reach see value in and want to come to. For example, the clinic provides fun children’s activities, since many of the patients have families that include other small children. Garrison describes what takes place on clinic day: “They bring their children, they play, they go shop, they get their healthcare concerns taken care of, and then they enjoy a hot meal that Family of God provides six days a week.”
The Luke Project 52 Clinic combines a Great Compassion ministry to provide free prenatal and infant care with a Great Commission ministry. “Ultimately we’re trying to build relationships through which Jesus Christ can be shared,” says Garrison, adding that “we’d like to help some churches also deploy the mobile clinic and provide compassionate care to the people in their community.”
Garrison explains that mobile clinics are particularly successful in reaching populations that have poorer and less than optimal access to healthcare. By traveling to these communities and offering free services, mobile clinics remove logistical constraints such as transportation issues, difficulties making appointments, long wait times, complex administrative processes, and financial barriers such as health insurance requirements and co-payments. Qualitative research has found that the mobile clinic staff’s marriage of professional and personal discourses fosters trusting relationships, allowing them to stay engaged with clients and to support them through behavioral changes and navigation of the healthcare system.
The Luke Project 52 Clinic is dependent upon the support received from the Michigan District, LCMS and its congregations, grants from Wheat Ridge® Ministries, other foundations that support innovative ministries and healthcare initiatives, and individual donors. It is a not-for-profit supported in part by the Michigan District, LCMS, Living Water Lutheran Church in Whitmore Lake, Mich., and is a member of FiveTwo Network’s StartNew Incubator.
The Pro-Life Ecosystem
Garrison says they desire to work with other healthy “organisms” (organizations) in the Pro-life Ecosystem in an effort to alter the current cultural worldview as it relates to the value of life. Pregnancy resource centers often have the initial contact with a pregnant woman considering abortion. They refer clients to The Luke Project 52 Clinic to meet the prenatal-through-postpartum care. The local church is the next natural step where patients can grow in their relationship with Christ and where a client can transition from a care-receiver to a care-giver.
“In real life, no ecosystem is linear in nature. There is an incredible connectivity with the various organisms. This working together or mutually beneficial relationship between organisms will have the most impact on our society,” says Garrison.
Photos by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS
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