Medical Ministry Stories
Making a Bigger Difference
The Medical Ministry offers services on many levels. One very special commitment that the clinic has to our community and one way that we expand our services is through student involvement in direct patient care. During Covid, the ability of our staff to cover academic programming has been especially important since clinical placements were limited due to the pandemic. Below are the currently featured programs:
Medical Students – UNC School of Medicine
Nursing Students – AB Technical Community College, Western Carolina University, Purdue University (Global)
Pharmacy Residents – Asheville Residency Programs
Pharmacy Students – UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Internships
EMT Internship – Centre College
If we sound proud, know that we are. What a gift for the clinic and for the students in such a special setting. To be able to realize what it means for sick individuals to need and search for free medical care is so valuable for all of us. For our students, this is a lifelong lesson in caring and compassion that could not come at a better time in their curriculum and in our country’s need for a different outlook on how we love one another.
— Beth Reeves, FNP/Clinic Coordinator
Dr. Steve Swearingen is a longtime volunteer of the Medical Ministry. Volunteering since 2008, Dr. Swearingen is always up for whatever opportunity presents. And when it comes to making changes and knowing when you need to change gears, no one knows this better than a physician and an avid cyclist.
Dr. Swearingen has cared for and served the community for many years and in various capacities. With his background in Family Medicine and Public Health, he has served as the Buncombe County Public Health Director, a physician with the Veterans Administration, and a valuable volunteer with the Medical Ministry. When he is not volunteering and helping take care of others, Dr. Swearingen enjoys cycling and has even been spotted tubing down the river every now and then. He enjoys staying active and that includes volunteering with the Medical ministry.
When he is not helping with chart review and quality assurance projects at the clinic, Dr. Swearingen is looking for other opportunities. Most recently, the clinic needed some help controlling the kudzu and weeds that were growing behind the clinic and around the back parking lot. With his bush axe and pruning pole in hand, Dr. Swearingen went to work clearing away kudzu and brush. Soon there was more room in the back parking lot and some brush had been removed from the back of the clinic.
The medical clinic relies entirely on our volunteers and supporters to serve our neighbors in need. We are blessed to have volunteers like Dr. Swearingen who are able to “change gears” and rise to the challenge. If you are ready to change gears and serve the community through the Medical Ministry, we are ready for you. Please contact Kevin Ray with the Medical Ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Stability Starts with Strong Connections
Each year, as we begin our strategic planning for the fall, it gives the Medical Ministry staff the opportunity and the joy of realizing how many of our neighbors are helping other neighbors. The clinic practice works because all the pieces go together like a large jigsaw puzzle. Even in a year like 2020, which certainly was not the year we had planned, our connections remained strong.
Think of it like a busy road map with the opportunity to go to the destination that best meets a patient’s needs, and if the resource does not work out, backing up and taking another route may. As we continue on this journey with all of you to take care of our neighbors and community, let’s look at how we get there…
ABCCM’s Route Mapping Software
Directions To Stability via Strong Connections
Start out by turning left on Livingston Street
Turn Right to ABCCM Medical Outreach for Transformation Village, Veteran’s Restoration Quarters, and Crisis Ministries
Continue straight ahead to valuable Community Resources such as Buncombe County Health Center, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Western Carolina Medical Society and Project Access
Merge left for Business Connections such as Walgreens, other Pharmacies, and NC Emergency Operations.
Pause along the way to note our grantors that support the clinic through many valuable organizations such as WNC Bridge Foundation, VAYA Health, Sisters of Mercy – Belmont, and the Leon Levine Foundation
View the many schools and educational outlets that receive clinical time and training to be able to serve those in our community
Along the entire trip you will see so many churches and volunteers in our community that allow the Medical Ministry to exist by loving and caring for our neighbors
Once you see the happy patients that you are caring for you will know that you have completed this trip. Now let’s get ready to take the trip again tomorrow and all the days after that.
– Beth Reeves, FNP
– Kevin Ray
Honoring Dr. Andrew Kane
For the past 12 years, Dr. Andrew Kane has volunteered at the Medical Ministry. Dr. Kane is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at The University of Buffalo. He spent most of his career expanding community clinics in urban areas to serve Medicaid and uninsured persons with comprehensive access to health care. After moving from Florida to North Carolina, Dr. Kane began volunteering at the medical clinic in 2008. His wonderful success in Florida has been the clinic’s blessing as he not only brought his leadership to everyday practice, but gave 5 years of Clinic Board service with 3 years as chairperson, and 3 years on the ABCCM Board of Directors as Medical Ministry representative. He led the Clinic Board through the most critical time in the withdrawal of Mission Hospital as a partner and reinforcing our mission with new partners and practical expansion.
On March 9, 2021, Dr. Kane will take some well-deserved time off after 1,746 hours of volunteering. Besides bringing to the clinic a history of experience with underserved populations, Dr. Kane brought a “sense of otherness” to the practice and to the board. He kept the “I” out of our thinking and focused on the true need of the patient. For this, his humility, compassion, kindness, and patience, he will be truly missed. We wish him a time of renewal as we all approach spring with his example at heart.
In his humbleness, Dr. Kane would point to others who have served along with him, or longer; and so we honor all those who continue to walk in his example of service.
As National Doctor’s Day approaches at the end of this month, it is a special time to appreciate the commitment from our medical community. This week, the Medical Ministry marks a 12 month experience in practicing medicine from a “distance.” Realizing now that this means many things, it has become apparent that our volunteers have been the ones who had to accept great change in the way we provide services. Our appreciation for their willingness to follow us into the unknown is more than we can convey. To our physician volunteers we say thank you for your trust and for your courage. The leap of faith that you all have taken in this medical practice encourages everyone to persist in caring for difficult cases, providing medication, and searching for specialty care appointments.
–Beth Reeves, FNP
You Can Do It If You Focus
As we begin a new year, we look back on 2020 with mixed emotions. 2020 was a year like none we have seen or experienced before. It was a year of Covid-19 and many changes that are now part of our daily routines. There were initial struggles with finding enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to go around and reworking access to the clinic to provide airlocks that allow patients to be seen and treated with safety.
The Medical Ministry continues to see patients at the clinic and to provide needed medication through our pharmacies. This could not be achievable without the ongoing collaboration of our volunteers and our supporters within the community. Webster’s Dictionary defines focus as “a guiding or motivating purpose or principle.” Your guiding purpose was to develop a free clinic that is here to serve those in need. We are so thankful for the community’s focus to make certain that the uninsured and lower income residents of Buncombe County receive the medical care they need and deserve through the ABCCM Medical Ministry. Your focus is what makes that happen!
It is amazing what can be achieved when we focus our minds, thoughts, and actions on helping those in need. A medical clinic is much more than just a building with four walls. It takes a volunteer group with a vast array of experience and expertise. Volunteers that range from physicians and providers, to pharmacists, to nurses, to all of the support staff that is needed to perform the daily functions and tasks. It takes a huge amount of supplies, medication, and equipment to operate a clinic. It also requires funding to keep the electricity and utilities on.
We are so thankful and blessed to have all of you who have helped in so many ways during the Covid crisis. Webster’s dictionary also defines focus as “a point of convergence of light or a point from which it diverges.” You have focused your resources, time, and dedication to ensure that the medical clinic continues to operate during this pandemic. You converged to provide that single point of light for so many in need of medical services. That light provided care for those who were suffering and in need of medical attention. Please know that with your continued support and focus we will make it through this upcoming year and the Covid pandemic!
As we start 2021, we are excited and optimistic! There are hopes and prayers for a better year with vaccines becoming available and new workflows in place to ensure the safety of our volunteers, patients, and staff. We look forward to being able to bring more of our previous as well as many new volunteers back into the clinic during the coming year. We are so thankful for your continued support and wish everyone a safe and healthy New Year!
–Kevin Ray, ABCCM Medical Ministry