Parishioners organize to open free medical clinic in Virginia town
COLONIAL BEACH, Va. (CNS) -- They didn't know whether to expect one patient or 1,000 on their first day, but quantity was not a concern for the volunteers staffing the Guadalupe Free Medical Clinic.
Although they only saw a handful of patients the first day, Father Jerome Magat, parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Parish in Colonial Beach, who spearheaded the clinic's formation, is confident that "once word gets around the community, it'll pick up."
Father Magat was assigned to Colonial Beach in October 2003, and said he spent the first six months of his assignment assessing the needs of the community and parish.
"If you live here, you notice there are significant needs," he said.
"There are a lot of poor people."
He knew he wanted to provide some sort of service in the house next to the parish office, but he didn't want to duplicate ministries being offered by other churches.
There are already successful thrift stores run by Protestant churches, but there were no free medical clinics.
Equipped with donations from free clinics in Fredericksburg and Lynchburg and equipment bought with private donations, the Guadalupe clinic opened its doors for the first time in early June.
The Knights of Columbus helped to renovate the building for use as a clinic, and many were present on opening day.
Their hard work earned them the honor of Knights of Columbus project of the year in Virginia for 2005.
"The people involved (in opening the clinic) have been incredible," said Dr. Dan Muldoon, the first physician to see patients at the clinic.
"They have done everything right and that's why it's going to be successful.
We're starting small and serving acute needs of patients, but I see it growing."
PO Box 275   |   Colonial Beach, VA 22443   |   T: 804-224-0571   |   F: 804-224-0572