I really enjoyed today's hour of service. Now if I can just stay awake for long enough to type about it.
The Sick Children's Clinic was founded in 1961 by two Lubbock physicians, Drs. Stanley Ullom and Gerald Marable. Their dream was to treat indigent children in Lubbock and the surrounding areas in the early stages of sickness. It is a totally free clinic where sick children from newborns to age 16 can be treated. Medicine is also free from their on-site pharmacy. Sick Children's Clinic is staffed solely by volunteers, including the doctors. Most of their doctors come during their lunch hour and are at the clinic for a short time. Regardless, they give each child and family their full attention. Because the clinic depends on the availability of doctors, it does not have set hours: it opens at different hours each day, Monday through Friday.
Dr. Ullom, who was a cofounder of the clinic, and who passed away a few years ago, was my ENT doctor when I was a little boy. I had a lot of trouble with my ears back then. To this day, I'm just about deaf in my right ear, but if it hadn't been for Dr. Ullom's treatment, it would probably be all the way. I never knew that he had been responsible for such a cool ministry.
I've seen the building that the Sick Children's Clinic is located in hundreds of times, it's just across the street from the South Plains Fairgrounds. I'd never seen it in action before, though, and didn't know very much about it. Lubbock's Second Baptist Church coordinates everything at the clinic, so I called them and asked when I could get on the schedule to help out. I made sure they knew I have no medical background, but that I'm willing to do anything else they have need of. When I arrived today, one of the other volunteers quickly showed me around the clinic (waiting area, office area, six exam rooms), and then asked what I was comfortable doing. This was a coded statement, intended to mean "Are you comfortable talking with kids?" I told her that I have three children of my own, and I'd love to do whatever I can.
We called the first patient back into exam room one, weighed him and took his temperature. Then we interviewed him about his symptoms, took notes on his chart for the doctor to see, and called back the next patient. I got to handle the next several patients on my own, and this is where I really started to have fun. The children I saw were all between 4 and 9, which happens to be around the same age as my kids. There were a lot of sore throats today, and one little boy with complications with his asthma, none of which is fun, but just having the chance to visit with them, see them smile when I asked them an unexpected question about their school, and make them laugh when I did some stupid little trick with my pen was fantastic.
Before I left, they had one more job for me. "Hey, you're very tall. The fluorescent bulbs in the hallway have been flickering for the last month. Could you switch those out?" No problem. Didn't even need a chair.
I am extremely impressed with their operation. The building is sparkling clean and immaculately well-kept, and we scrubbed everything down after the patients had left today. The doctor (who attends the same church I do) was fantastic with the children, and had such a kind, gentle demeanor. They have a well-stocked pharmacy right there in the building so that they can send families home with the medicine they need. If it's a drug they don't stock, they have partnerships with a few local pharmacies to arrange for the families to be able to get the medicine they need at no cost. The other volunteers were all so kind and welcoming. They turn nobody away. Again: nobody is turned away. I'm just amazed at the directness and usefulness of this ministry. They are helping meet people's needs in such a vital and important way.
When I was about to go, they asked if I'd come back for their next planned Tuesday hours, two weeks from today. I thought about it for less than a second before I said yes.
Affirmation Project: Kyle, Chris, Casey, Dan, Eric, Dale, Tyler, Chad, and Parker: I love how I can talk to any of you, on the phone or in person, after any length of time, and it feels like we just saw each other yesterday. Each of you has been a friend and a support to me since college, through good times and bad. I'm so thankful for you.