Walking through downtown Dublin, GA, you might not notice the modest building at 410 Academy Avenue. Yet for many, the J.O.Y. Clinic inside is a medical and spiritual haven.
Run by the Laurens Baptist Association, the clinic offers free medical, dental and vision services to the community's needy.
"We are simply following the great commission of Jesus — to love your neighbor as yourself," says Rita Green, the clinic's director. The initials in the name stand for Jesus, Others, Yourself, and the clinic's volunteers bring all three together in service to their neighbors.
Each month, a cadre of volunteers -- physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, and physician assistants -- give primary care to more than 200 patients who lack healthcare insurance. The clinic also offers spiritual counseling to help patients cope with their burdens and share the gospel.
"For most, this is their medical home," says Rita. "We don't handle emergency cases, but we try to keep people healthy to relieve some of the overload on hospitals."
In partnership with the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation, the clinic brings in a mobile unit from Atlanta to provide eye care and soon will convert a spare room into an eye clinic. J.O.Y.'s dental office is only a few blocks away from the clinic.
"Our goal from the beginning has been to provide desperately needed medical and dental homes to working people in Laurens County who lack insurance," says Dr. Bob Shuman, who has been the medical director since the clinic's founding in 2012. "Our patients are so grateful to have these services available to them that they actually bless us more than we bless them."
Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge is funding. The clinic depends on grants, fundraisers and financial donations from individuals, corporations, and community organizations.
For some patients, the J.O.Y Clinic has been a life-saving asset as the medical professionals diagnose serious illness and use their resources to find treatments. For others with chronic ailments like diabetes or hypertension, the medical staff manages the condition with medication and helps to educate patients on the additional benefits of diet and exercise.
The clinic seeks to serve the volunteers as well with meals, child-care and even help with homework. Why the effort?
"We just want to help our neighbors live a healthy life while showing them the love of Jesus Christ," Rita says.
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