Healthcare for the Poor
The Christian Community Health Fellowship/CMDA Collaboration
We believe that organizations should work together for the Kingdom of God. Too often we find organizations that work in isolation and bring about unnecessary duplication. In reviewing the efforts of CMDA and the Christian Community Health Fellowship (CCHF), there are some natural ways that the two organizations can collaborate. This collaboration could grow to include such organizations as the Christian Nursing Fellowship, Christian Pharmacy Fellowship, Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants, and others.
CCHF and CMDA initiated a strategic partnership to maximize their efforts toward health care for the poor by drawing from the strengths of each organization.
For over 26 years CCHF has provided networking for students, medical professionals, and people interested in Christian Community Development. The networking has been through the quarterly journal, annual conferences, and individual contacts. The purpose of CCHF has often been stated that we are living out the gospel through health care among the poor. The organization was established to provide focus on the need and the "how to" in caring for the poor. Over the past three years CCHF, in collaboration with CMDA, Jericho Road Foundation, Lawndale Christian Health Center, and Christ Community Health Services, operated the Compassion Capital Fund grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
CMDA, until 2005, had focused its efforts in health care for the poor through a group of committed volunteer doctors, the Domestic Missions Commission. This voluntary group was focused on coordinating and supporting doctors who developed clinics that cared for the uninsured and underserved in the U.S.
CMDA and CCHF have blended their efforts: the clinics will come under the fellowship of CCHF, and CMDA will provide its large doctor base and its presence on 90% of the medical and dental campuses in the U.S.
As we go forward together, CCHF will concentrate on the mechanics of the clinics, how to get them started, how to run them well, provide the networking for people concerned on serving the poor, and work with students through the process of internships, preceptorships, placement and loan repayment opportunities. CMDA will provide access to its doctors and student base so that many more doctors in the future may move their careers toward caring for the poor.
Together the organizations have already cooperated in obtaining large federal grants to improve their efforts toward the poor, each complementing the other in the grant applications. This grant enabled us to work together to provide training and technical assistance to starting and struggling health centers. While administering the grant, CCHF realized the need to provide services to free clinics. Over 48 organizations received sub-awards and some organizations received technical assistance and training.
CMDA will now, with CCHF's support, focus its resources in two efforts. The first is to continue to educate and encourage Christian doctors to take seriously God’s call to care for the poor. The second initiative will be to develop pathways of service for the 90% of Christian doctors who remain in traditional practices or academic environments. Efforts will be made to enlist doctors to volunteer their services in free clinics. Initiatives will be started to encourage doctors to see more of the uninsured and underserved patients in their practices.
Further pathways by which doctors may serve the poor will be developed as CMDA and CCHF cooperate in the future. Clearly both organizations will have a more effective ministry because the two have joined their efforts.
Healthcare for the Poor Clinics
J. Scott Ries, MD
PO Box 7500
Bristol, TN 37621