IN THE NEWS
Oct 6, 2020
VALPARAISO–In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that almost 3 million Floridians under the age of 65 have no health insurance.
Crossroads Center Medical and Dental Clinic is standing in the gap for its Northwest Florida neighbors who need medical care most. Collaborating with community healthcare resources and volunteers, the faith-based medical ministry delivers free, quality medical and dental care to low-income, uninsured adults in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
The clinic treats between 900 and 1,500 patients annually, providing more than $17 million in free healthcare from its two locations in Valparaiso and Crestview. Additionally, working with some of the national’s largest pharmaceuticals, Crossroads has supplied over $7 million in free medication to their patients.
The vision for the clinic was born in the heart of Hershel Adams, retired director of missions for the Emerald Coast Network. In 2005, Adams led a team of volunteers to host the Florida Baptist Convention Mobile Dental Unit for the first time in Ft. Walton Beach.
While eligibility screenings were set to begin at 9:30 a.m., Adams received word about 7:30 a.m. that at least 100 people were already in line for services. At the end of the eight-hour day, more than 100 people still had to be turned away.
“In that moment, God burdened my heart. If these people didn’t have dental care, they probably didn’t have medical care either. I knew God was calling me to do something,” Adams said. “Our Association conducted a study on the medical and dental assistance available to residents of our county. We discovered that there is no help for low-income, uninsured people ages 18-64.”
In 2005, the association voted to begin a free medical clinic for the uninsured, low-income adults residing in Okaloosa County. Located at the Ft. Walton Beach Medical Center, Crossroads clinic began accepting patients in January 2007. Using a staff of volunteer doctors and nurses, the clinic was opened to patients on Saturday mornings only.
But that soon changed.
“Each year Crossroads has seen an increase in our patient load, and we are now scheduling patients Monday through Thursday, and Saturday mornings,” said clinic manger Cindy Bray.
Having developed partnerships with local hospitals and a local MRI facility, patients received no cost diagnostic testing and bloodwork. Had it not been for the clinic, Bray observed, the only option for most of these patients to receive medical attention is emergency rooms, placing a tremendous strain on local hospitals and increasing the burden for individuals unable to afford healthcare.
Bray, a former restaurant manager, was encouraged to volunteer at the clinic by her mother-in-law. “When I first came on board, I didn’t feel qualified. “I started as a receptionist and grew into the position of clinic manager,” she said.
“The Lord quickly showed me that my time working with the public had prepared me for this special assignment. Most of our patients come to us with great need both medically and spiritually. The Lord has done a great work in my life through trials. Through those experiences, I can minister the love of Jesus to others.”
Charles Wilson, pastor of The Chapel at Crosspoint in Santa Rosa Beach, serves on the center’s Board of Directors. Having earned a PhD in psychology and human development, he is a tremendous asset to the clinic, having worked with the American Hospital Association and the IRB (Institution Review Board).
According to the pastor, the U.S. healthcare system has enough money to provide excellent care to everyone.
“The money available for healthcare does not get to the person who actually needs the care. There are so many hands in the till that there are few resources that get to the people who need it. Consequently, we have a gross number of under-served people in our country. That’s where Crossroads comes in.”
Even through the Affordable Care Act, the average person making $20,000 a year struggles to afford the lowest available plan, he added.
Prescription medication is also a tremendous burden for the uninsured. Wilson reported that the treatment regimen for a person with Hepatitis C can be as much as $90,000.
Crossroads works closely with some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies, tapping into their patient assistance programs. Clinic volunteers work two days a week to help patients apply for free medication and process those prescriptions when they arrive. This has enabled the clinic to provide patients with the $7 million in free medication.
In March 2009, Crossroads moved from its Fort Walton Beach site to another location provided by First Baptist Church in Valparaiso, expanding services to include Walton County residents.
From its conception, Crossroads’ vision has been to expand its services to include dental care. Knowing the estimated cost of an in-house dental clinic was an estimated $120,000, in 2013 with only $12,000 in designated funds, the Crossroads board took a step of faith, voting to move ahead with the dental clinic. Fifteen days after that an anonymous gift of $70,000 was given towards the dental clinic; 30 days later, a local church donated $10,000; two months after that another anonymous gift of $50,000 was given.
“No announcement or request for donations had been made. This was all God,” Adams said.
In 2016 Crossroads was blessed with an opportunity to share an office with one of its volunteer physicians in Crestview. In January 2017, this new satellite office began treating patients on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
In conjunction with medical care, Crossroads also provides limited mental health care and counseling. Licensed volunteers provide diabetes education, nutrition education and tobacco cessation.
Because physical symptoms are often an indicator of deeper, spiritual needs, the clinic developed a CARE program–Christians Aiding in Resources and Encouragement–to minister to patients and share the love of Jesus Christ while providing information about other resources.
Crossroads continues to look toward the future and further expansion of services. With a strategic plan in hand, earlier this year, the board voted to find a permanent home. When a $80,000 piece of property became available, the board received news that the clinic had received an $80,000 donation.
The clinic, which is one of 29 medical and dental clinics in the state to receive funding from the Florida Baptist Convention’s healthcare ministries, will celebrate its 14th anniversary in 2021.
“The Clinic was a leap of faith, but has never really been in need,” said Wilson. “God has already provided, even in advance of the needs we didn’t know were coming. It’s been an amazing journey!”
“What started in the heart of an old preacher,” Adams said, “turned into something only God could do. I can’t believe God let me be a part of it!”
The Clinic is always in need of clinical and non-clinical volunteers.
By Janey Frost
CROSSROADS CENTER: MEDICAL CARE AND MORE
NWF Daily News (3/26/2013)
Not everyone believes in miracles in these difficult times, but employees at a small medical clinic say they see them every day.
VALPARAISO -- Not everyone believes in miracles in these difficult times, but employees at a small medical clinic say they see them every day.
The staff at Crossroads Center Medical Clinic in Valparaiso sees people in the gravest of circumstances and gives them the ability to fight their diseases.
“We have had people walk in hours or days from death and their lives were saved here,” said Hershel Adams, director of missions with Emerald Coast Fellowship of Baptist Churches. “What we try to do is provide a means of treating chronic diseases on an ongoing basis.”
The clinic opened in 2007 as a way to reach low-income adults ages 18 to 64 in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Before it opened, no other clinic was available for adults struggling to make enough money for daily living and medical expenses.
“They wouldn’t want anything to be really bad because they didn’t know how to care for it,” said clinic manager Cindy Bray. “Instead of going to the doctor they would just ignore it.”
Bray said when the clinic opened, patients with undiagnosed cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases were able to see a doctor or nurse for the first time in years or even decades.
“We are a lifesaver here,” Bray said. “It’s a blessing to be a part of this, and from what I hear from the patients, it’s a blessing for them, too.”
Since it opened, the clinic has taken on 1,400 patients and has been able to provide millions of dollars worth of medical services. The clinic also helped with the opening of a similar facility, Destin Hope Medical Clinic.
The clinic does not accept walk-in patients; appointments are needed and financial screenings are required beforehand.
Marty Walker, a nurse practitioner at the clinic, is one of 60 medical professionals who donate their time at the clinic. She said that in her long career in nursing there has been nothing like working at Crossroads.
“I think it has to do with the mission,” Walker said. ’The fact that we are giving care to those who can’t afford it and doing it all with God’s love changes the atmosphere.”
The clinic hopes to add a dental wing. Bray said the equipment will cost from $80,000 and $120,000. Staffers say they could also use more volunteers from the medical field and from the community.
“We want to do the best we can to keep people out of the emergency room, and we need help to do that,” Bray said.
In the clinic’s small waiting room, chairs line the walls. A coffee table sits in the center with a box for prayer requests and a large Bible bookmarked by the last reader.
The clinic, which is adjacent to Valparaiso First Baptist Church, offers patients more than just a doctor’s visit. They can attend wellness classes, get discounted medication and even talk with a Christian volunteer and write down their prayer requests.
“We give the patients a personal touch,” Adams said. “We treat them and their needs with dignity.
“At this clinic, we care about our patients.”