Free medical clinic a blessing in New Orleans.

By July 3, 2006

USA (MNN)–Operation Blessing’s free medical clinic in New Orleans east just expanded its services to include new medical,dental, and prescriptive services. It’s an effort to meet the ever-growing needs in Katrina’s footprint.

The clinic first opened its doors in April after it became apparent that longer-term medical help was not forthcoming. In fact, the region’s Methodist Hospital remains closed nearly 10 months after the hurricane’s devastation.

OBI’s President, Bill Horan says somebody had to be there for the residents who are coming home.. “They still have chronic problems like diabetes and high blood pressure, which are the most common.”

He adds that as the homeowners make repairs, “They also hurt themselves trying to get their houses rebuilt and their lives rebuilt.” Accidents, rusty hardware punctures, spider bites, snake bites and an assortment of other emergency medical needs have arisen as New Orleans struggles to come to life.

The terrible part is, “…there’s virtually no place for these folks to go particularly if they don’t have any insurance or if they don’t have any cash.”

Some people are caught in an unfamiliar world–the ‘newly poor’. These are people like school teachers–they have degrees. Before Katrina, they had jobs, cars, homes, insurance and other benefits.

After Katrina, the city was too poor to continue benefits and they lapsed, dragging a whole new group of people into desperation.

The clinic, housed in a parking lot across the street from the shuttered Abramson High School, has eight examination rooms, a room for minor surgery, a pharmacy, a mental-health counseling room, a dental center with three exam rooms and an X-ray room.

Horan said Operation Blessing International is spending thousands of dollars a month to provide free prescription medicine.

But it’s more than the physical work. OBI partners with local church groups to help them be more effective. Horan says people see their work as God’s gift because it’s God-fearing people who are bringing help to them. “If people ask for, and are obviously in need of prayer, we offer to pray with them. But, our mission down there is to do the work rather than talk about the work. We are doers of the word, and we try to do what the Bible preaches–feed the hungry, heal the sick.”

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