'It was a calling'

"'It was a calling'" Continued...

Issue: "Profiles in effective compassion," April 24, 2010

Dr. Franklin Browne is one of the volunteer practitioners whose donated time enables Christ Clinic to see as many patients as it does. He also serves on the clinic's board of directors. Browne said the opportunity to blend medical and spiritual care first led him to offer his services to the clinic: "For me it was a calling, it was the first time I ever felt something like that. Every Sunday at prayer Christ Clinic would come into my heart."

Browne, recently retired from a busy practice, was looking for an opportunity to serve his community while keeping his medical skills intact. He emphasizes that "the medicine we practice here is every bit as good" as that his private practice provided, and he enjoys his volunteer work: "It's really fun to practice medicine when you don't have to worry about getting paid."

To provide quality care while keeping costs low, Christ Clinic has tapped into a network of resources. A local medical imaging company provides X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, and other imaging to clinic patients for the same sliding scale fees the clinic charges. Pharmaceutical companies provide free medications for their qualifying patients. Local specialists have volunteered to take a certain number of pro-bono patients each month with the goal of ensuring that all patients receive care, no matter how complicated their condition.

Christ Clinic survives entirely on donations and the tiny fees it charges for its services. It relies heavily on volunteer help, and even its permanent staffers are paid less than what they could get from commercial concerns. Nonetheless, the clinic has been ahead of its time in many ways: It has long supported preventive care, with a dietician and medical and emotional counseling available to patients.

Christ Clinic is currently experiencing growing pains. The move to the larger facility has expanded its patient load and overhead. The entire healthcare industry is undergoing potentially seismic shifts in the way it does business. But Riggs states that Christ Clinic's mission will remain the same: "People come into a medical office, and they feel very hopeless. We want to share hope.
Click here to listen to WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky discuss with Alisa Harris the West regional finalists.
To view a video profile of Christ Clinic and of each of the other 2010 regional finalists and to read profiles of finalists and winners from 2006 through 2009, visit WORLDmag.com/compassion.

Christ Clinic Factbox

Location: Spokane, Wa.

Founded: 1991

Mission: Christ-based medical care to uninsured

Size: Total number of patients treated: 7,000

Annual Budget: $500,000

Website: www.christclinic.org


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