Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Cape Girardeau clinic free for uninsured

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Andrea Sachse, Nancy Buchanan and Rhonda Sievers, the front desk staff, fill out paperwork. The clinic serves uninsured people. Photo by Nathan Hamilton

The Samaritan Regional Health Center, which had its grand opening in August, is one of Cape Girardeau's first free health clinics.

The clinic serves individuals in the Southeast Missouri area who do not have Medicare, Medicaid, insurance or the ability to pay for such services out of pocket.

The clinic treats non-emergency medical conditions and the staff also works with the patient to minimize costs when referrals to specialists are necessary.

The clinic is equipped with four exam rooms, a lab and a surgery room.

Dr. Mark D. Dalton and Dr. Michael C. Wulfers are the two main doctors who work at the clinic, and they work at Southeast Hospital and Saint Francis Medical Center, respectively.

Along with the doctors, there are volunteer nurse practitioners, registered nurses and other staff members. The clinic is staffed completely by volunteers.

"It took about two years of planning," said Dan Johnson, the pastor of the Evangelical United Church in Cape Girardeau. "There were a lot of meetings with the community people and with Southeast Hospital. It took a lot of work, but it's amazing how it came together with Dr. John Sauer donating the space. This space was unoccupied. It was originally Dr. Wulfer's medical office before he moved into a new space about 20 years ago. It was just standing here as an empty medical office."

The Samaritan Regional Health Center is located at 937 Broadway.

The director of the facility, Gwen Maloney, is also an intensive-care unit nurse practitioner at Southeast Hospital. She has worked on this project for a couple years.

"The clinic fills a need in the community, and we're learning new things that we've not done before," Maloney said.

Southeast Hospital donates most of the medical equipment that is used at the clinic and Big River Telephone donated an internet and telephone system.

Johnson said that funding is low, but the donations of local businesses, churches and other organizations help support the clinic monetarily.

The volunteers at the Health Center reach out to the students and the community in the Cape Girardeau area to hold medicine drives to donate typical, non-prescription medicine for the clinic to use.

Some of the clinical staff have taken several medical mission trips to Caron Hall in Jamaica and they hope to raise funds to continue that next year.

The trips started in 1999 and the volunteer medical staff has been going every other year since then.

During the staff's time at Caron Hall, volunteers from Cape Girardeau and Jackson, Mo., provide general check-ups, eye examinations, dental care and small surgical procedures for one week.

"We pull hundreds of teeth," Johnson said. "Most of these folks have never brushed their teeth, so we try to teach them how."

Johnson said the staff will service around 1,500 patients during a week in Jamaica.

The staff plans to visit again next year after Easter if funds are sufficient.

The clinic is open from 2-7 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays.