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Community Free Clinic Serves Local Health Needs

Gordon County residents lined up for hours to receive free dental cleanings and extractions at the AMEN Free Clinic on June 11.
Gordon County residents lined up for hours to receive free dental cleanings and extractions at the AMEN Free Clinic on June 11.

AdventHealth Gordon proudly joined with community partners to organize the AMEN Free Clinic on Sunday, June 11. This collaborative event aimed to provide essential medical, dental, vision and mental health support to the local community, free of charge. With nearly 360 individuals served, AdventHealth Gordon’s unwavering mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ was put into action throughout the event.

Denise Rustad, community wellness coordinator at AdventHealth Gordon, dreamed of this event for several years. After the idea was put on hold due to COVID-19, Rustad and others at AdventHealth Gordon, Calhoun Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Georgia Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Georgia Cumberland Academy SDA Church, rallied together to bring the vision to life. Recognizing the immense need for basic medical services, the group partnered with the Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN), an organization specializing in offering free clinics to uninsured and underinsured individuals across the United States.

The AMEN Free Clinic served as a beacon of hope for those in the community lacking adequate health care coverage. Patients had the opportunity to receive much-needed dental services, vision care, mental health support and comprehensive medical consultations. Many patients who received care had not seen a doctor or dentist in years. AdventHealth Gordon also provided additional medical equipment, health screening devices and essential supplies to ensure a seamless experience for patients.

Throughout the event, AdventHealth Gordon’s team members went above and beyond to serve the clinic’s participants. Lynn Janzen, AdventHealth Gordon laboratory director, guided patients to their desired services. Daniel Ahn, MD, ophthalmologist at AdventHealth Gordon, conducted vision exams, addressing any visual impairments that patients may have been experiencing. AdventHealth Gordon nursing staff played a crucial role in the success of the AMEN Free Clinic. They conducted pre-screening labs for all patients, readying them to see a doctor or dentist. Sally Smalley, MD, an otolaryngologist at AdventHealth Medical Group Ear, Nose & Throat at Calhoun, provided ear cleanings.

AdventHealth Gordon president and CEO, Chris Self, worked to find and deliver essential supplies such as hand sanitizer and dental supplies. Community Outreach Coordinator Wendy Taylor directed the registration and patient check-in process, greeting each patient with a smile. The hospital’s plant operations team contributed to patient privacy by delivering room dividers, creating a confidential environment for medical consultations.

Calhoun resident Tammy Minchew was one of the first in line at 6 am on Sunday morning and heard about the clinic the week before on social media. “Today was a tremendous blessing for me. I did check to see what this dental treatment would cost and it would have been thousands of dollars,” said Michew.

A team of dentists, dental assistants, registered dental hygienists and sterilization crew delivered expert care to people in need of cleanings, extractions and other fixes. Dental assistant students from Georgia Northwestern Technical College and dental hygiene students from Chattanooga State University volunteered their time to help.

During her visit with one of the volunteer dentists, Minchew received fillings, smoothed teeth and a sparkling smile. “The dentist filled my broken tooth and it was smooth for the first time in seven months. He didn’t want me leaving here in pain and made a difference in just thirty minutes. Now I can eat, sleep and talk more normally. And now I have my smile back,” said Minchew.

The event’s organizers were intentional about creating access and a positive experience for attending Spanish-speaking participants. Bilingual medical providers met with patients and the dental area had many volunteers who were able to communicate in various languages. A translation team of volunteers guided attendees and helped them locate their desired services.

"The AMEN Free Clinic perfectly embodies the heart of what we do at AdventHealth Gordon – Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ," said Self. "This event brought together numerous community partners to address the health care needs of our community. It is rewarding to witness the dedication of the 175 volunteers and the positive impact they have made."

The success of the AMEN Free Clinic serves as a testament to AdventHealth Gordon’s unwavering commitment to meeting the diverse health care needs of the community.

Thank you to:

  • AdventHealth Gordon
  • AdventHealth Redmond
  • AdventHealth Murray
  • Georgia-Cumberland Conference
  • Calhoun SDA Church
  • New Town Baptist Church
  • Heritage Baptist Church
  • Coble Elementary School
  • GCA SDA Church
  • City of Calhoun
  • Healing Hands Clinic
  • Gordon County Department of Health
  • Highland Rivers Behavioral Health
  • The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, Inc.
  • The Family Resource Center
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Georgia Northwestern Technical College
  • Chattanooga State University
  • Many local dental practices

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