Serving East Baton Rouge
Numerous organizations were engaged in the Baton Rouge Free Clinic that took place in East Baton Rouge January 19-21. Sponsors included Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN); the Arkansas-Louisiana and Southwest Region Conferences; Louisiana Mission of Mercy (LaMOM), Louisiana Healthcare Connections; Amerihealth Caritas; Louisiana Dental Association; several area hospitals, along with tremendous support from the city and community of East Baton Rouge. All of this came about from the vision of Fred Cornforth, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and CEO of Community Development, Inc., based in Boise, Idaho.
Over the three-day period, some 1,300 volunteers participated in providing free dental, vision, or medical service, in addition to all the other support service areas including patient and volunteer registration, patient escort, crowd management, pharmacy service, chaplain care, and food service. A total of 1,404 people were served, some receiving more than one service. Free dental care was provided to 955 patients; 436 patients received medical care; and over 300 patients saw an eye doctor and received prescription glasses at no cost to them!
It was thrilling to hear the expressions of appreciation made by so many of the patients. One woman whose two top center teeth were missing was fitted with a bridge. When she looked in a mirror she could hardly contain herself as she squealed with joy and shouted, “Thank you, thank you,” again and again! Patients left with a new smile who once were afraid to smile, while others left with a new pair of glasses, and others left with a free filled prescription written by a volunteer physician. Many were grateful to have a prayer offered up for them by one of the pastors or conference personnel of the Arkansas-Louisiana or Southwest Region Conference.
It is community impact events such as this that helps to connect people with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Prejudices are broken down, confidence is established, and friendships are made that make it much easier to invite people to a Bible study, a home study group, or a special event or evangelistic meeting at the church. Volunteers were highly blessed with the privilege of serving and seeing the needs of others met in such a wonderful way. To God be the glory!
By Stephen Orian