The clinic's trailer and van that provides care in the Screven County area. Photographs by Michael J. Johnson.

St. Camillus Health Clinic celebrates 10 years

Originally Appeared in : 9821-10/11/18

"The major reason that I enjoy volunteering is because so many of these people are younger than me and they have no services provided, and they are just falling through the cracks,"said Helen Morgan, a retired nurse volunteer.


Started in 2008, St. Camillus Health Clinic at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Sylvania just celebrated 10 years of medical ministry to people in Screven County and beyond.


According to Charles Kimbrough, Clinic Coordinator, the volunteer staff has provided care to over 1,000 patients. The van they drive is over 12 years old, has 130,000 miles on it, and is in need of repair. Roughly 70 volunteers have manned the clinic twice a week for 10 years.


Kimbrough schedules both volunteers and patients. He makes appointments for 10 to 14 patients per session. 


Father Louis Lussier, O.S. Cam., is pastor of Our Lady of Assumption. He started the clinic three years after arriving in Sylvania. This is a part of Father Lussier's ministry. His order, the Order of St. Camillus, is in medical ministry. They run clinics—not hospitals—because clinics serve the poor, and hospitals serve those with money.


"Our current system, even though it had the best intentions, it's not serving everybody. It's cost a lot of money but it's not serving everybody," Kimbrough said. "They might be working but they're not earning enough to go see a doctor or pay for decent insurance. They have to come here." 


People waited patiently in plastic chairs to be checked in and interviewed for this visit Sept. 12. One by one the patients were brought out to the mobile examining room, a large trailer behind the van. A nurse practitioner, Maria Smith, is there to see each patient, check their vital signs and investigate their current issues. Returning patients' records are reviewed and an assessment is made regarding the current action plan. Successes are noted and shared with the patients. Weight loss, lower blood pressure, or blood work evidence in improved health are all discussed with the patients. 


The needs of the clinic are great: Many patients travel an hour each way for medical services. St. Camillus is in the elementary stages of pairing up with St. Matthew's Church in Statesboro to set the mobile clinic there. This would entail pulling the trailer to that site 40 miles away and back. Additional volunteers and a new van will be required. 
The clinic survives on donations. Father Lussier said, "We couldn’t even afford the taxes on a new van. If we could get something a few years old with low mileage that would be perfect." 


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