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We had a special visitor at the Health Outreach Bus earlier this month -- all the way from New Zealand!
Beth Stitely, director of a free health care clinic in New Zealand, was in the Chicago area as a guest of the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. On Wednesday, October 10, Stitely visited CommunityHealth's clinic and The Night Ministry's Health Outreach Bus.
"I saw the great work that your team is doing with The Night Ministry,' she said. "The people I met were so grateful for the help they were receiving, and I can see that the Night Ministry is making a positive impact on people's lives."
We asked Stitely to tell us about her visit and the work she performs back home.
Can you tell me about your clinic?
Our clinic was started by two doctors and a midwife who saw the need for free care and were inspired to open a clinic that operated through volunteers and charged no fees. Our clinic, Servants Health Centre, opened its doors in January 2010. We're the only free clinic on the South Island of New Zealand. We serve a high-needs population, and criteria for enrollment is based on financial need. The demand for our free services is high and we always have people on our wait list, but we're seeing positive results and people's lives are being changed for the better because of our free service and care.
What was your impression of the community health providers you visited in Chicago?
I'm very impressed with the clinics and the work that's being done to help people here in Chicago. The volunteers and workers I spoke with were so caring and compassionate. I could see that the clinics are well resourced and can provide much needed services to those without medical insurance. The clients I spoke with were very grateful for the free services they were receiving.
What insights or information will you be taking back with you to New Zealand?
I'm looking forward to sharing my experience when I return to New Zealand. I found it interesting to learn that there's a need for navigators who help people access and understand the medical market place. That's not something we would need in New Zealand's government funded system. The clinics I saw in Chicago provide group health education classes, and I think that's something I'd like to replicate at our clinic as well. Overall, I've had a great experience here in Chicago and have learned so much. I'm very thankful for everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and share with me their work and mission.