Christ Clinic Bridges Healthcare Gap for Uninsured, Underinsured

Christ Clinic Bridges Healthcare Gap for Uninsured, Underinsured

October 14 2022

One of the many benefits of living in the Greater Houston Area is the presence and sheer volume of quality healthcare. With the explosion of growth in single-family residential development and master planned communities throughout the Greater Houston Area, the need for accessible healthcare has risen sharply. Hospital systems, urgent care clinics, and medical office buildings continue to answer the call and now commonly dot our suburbs, making it easier than ever to receive the same quality of care we expect from the Texas Medical Center right here in our own backyards.

For residents living in Houston suburbs who are adequately insured, the convenience of utilizing these many medical care resources has become an integral part of daily life. But for many, they are still out of reach due to lack of insurance, inadequate insurance, job loss, low income, and other limiting factors. Even in areas like Katy, many families and individuals struggle with the cost of living and often must choose between everyday living expenses and healthcare. This is where charity clinics like Christ Clinic in Katy step in to bridge the gap.

“Sometimes there’s a misconception that people who ended up at Christ Clinic made bad decisions. I could so easily be standing in the position of one of our patients,” said Lara Hamilton, Executive Director of Christ Clinic. In 2017, her husband tragically lost his life, leaving Hamilton and her two young children without a father, husband, income and insurance. Stricken with profound grief, they all succumbed to pneumonia and needed medical attention. Christ Clinic provided Hamilton and her children with the medical care they needed to recover.

Even individuals who have insurance can seek care at Christ Clinic for low out-of-pocket costs that will not be billed to insurance. Insured patients can simply walk in and be seen as part of Christ Clinic’s Express Care Program for just $50. For patients who qualify under the income requirements defined by Christ Clinic, complete health care services are available to the most vulnerable in the community through the Total Care Program. While local emergency rooms are often packed with patients waiting to be seen, many of them could be seen at Christ Clinic but unfortunately, those patients often do not know that Christ Clinic exists.

Christ Clinic has been serving low income uninsured and underinsured patients from across the Greater Houston Area since 2000. With humble beginnings as an outreach ministry in Memorial Lutheran Church in Katy, Christ Clinic initially operated as a weekly wellness clinic in the church’s gym. Over the last 22 years, Christ Clinic has experienced tremendous growth, establishing itself as a walk-in facility allowing for same-day services and increasing access to care. Currently, Christ Clinic is working on a partnership with churches and other clinics to open charity clinics within churches, aiming to utilize resources already in place but not in use during the work week, as well as congregant volunteers who are actively supporting the church and its members.

“One of the big goals is sustainability. Healthcare is getting more and more expensive. We are seeing burnout among healthcare professionals and there is a need to deliver solutions to provide care and have a positive impact on health,” said Hamilton. Area churches with robust programs who know their community’s needs are the perfect platform for this initiative, where community members are welcomed with open arms and shown that they are loved and cared about without judgement.

Leveraging relationships within a network of Katy area social services providers, Christ Clinic also partners with major hospital systems like Methodist Hospital West Campus and Memorial Hermann Katy, taking in patients referred to Christ Clinic for various treatments such as wound care. In addition to patient referrals, these hospitals have a positive influence on Christ Clinic’s operations, aiding in the creation of effective processes that bring patients to good primary care and behavioral healthcare homes.

“Houston Methodist West Hospital is proud of its long-standing partnership with Christ Clinic. Their mission to provide healthcare to the uninsured and underinsured in our community gives hope to so many in need. Together we will work to ensure that the clinic continues to deliver accessible, reliable, high-quality medical services to the financially challenged,” said Wayne Voss, CEO of Houston Methodist West Hospital.

On average, Christ Clinic provides 12,000 to 15,000 visits per year to approximately 5,000 patients. With an annual budget of around $1.6 million, Christ Clinic has adopted lean operating strategies to provide a high standard of care without compromise. In addition to primary care, many of Christ Clinic’s community partnerships have allowed several patients to receive life-changing medical care, such as restoring eyesight to patients thanks to volunteer medical expertise provided by the Mann Eye Institute.

“Christ Clinic is a valued member of the healthcare community, helping meet the needs of an underserved and uninsured patient population,” said Jerry Ashworth, Senior Vice President and CEO of Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital and Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital.

Although Christ Clinic operates on a lean budget, financial support is necessary to carry out its ongoing mission to provide reliable, accessible, high quality medical services to the most vulnerable people in our community. On October 21, Christ Clinic will hold their 11th annual Breakfast for a Blessing, its largest fundraising initiative that aims to raise funds needed for ongoing operating expenses. Guests will hear directly from some of their patients, staff and volunteers as they share how Christ Clinic has impacted their lives and how the mission of Christ Clinic speaks to them.

“This is the only fundraiser we have where we get to showcase what we do and how we are blessed to be a blessing to the community. It’s fun to be able to talk about the great things that God and good people have allowed us to do in the community,” said Hamilton about their annual Breakfast for a Blessing event.

Members of the community are welcome to attend the event and share in celebrating the life-changing impact that Christ Clinic has had on many of its patients. Presented by title sponsor Houston Methodist West Hospital, the event will be held at Embassy Suites located at 16435 Katy Freeway on Friday, October 21 from 7:30 to 9:00 AM. For more information or to purchase tickets or sponsorships, please visit the event website.

To learn about Christ Clinic's initiatives, ways to give, volunteer opportunities, how to apply for assistance and more, please visit their website.

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

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