Lynn Armour said her heart is full of stories of patients who come through the doors of Good Samaritan Clinic in Tuscaloosa.
Like this one: a man who got out of prison and started working as a forklift driver, whose vision started interfering with his ability to do his job.
“He had developed cataracts, and we were able to get a local ophthalmologist to provide the surgery,” recalled Armour, who serves as the clinic’s executive director.
She also remembered vividly a man in his late 50s who came in complaining about a knot in his mouth.
“Unfortunately, it was cancer,” Armour said.
Treating each need
Because he was a patient of Good Samaritan, a free clinic for people ages 19 and 65 who have limited financial resources and no medical insurance, the local Manderson Cancer Center treated him without charge.
“Treatment caused all his teeth to fall out, but once he was finished with treatment, he would come into the clinic for regular checks on his progress,” Armour recalled. “As I got to know him and would visit with him, he was so thankful we had caught his cancer. The only thing he regretted was being unable to chew a steak.”
She shared that with her staff, and they began looking for denture specialists.
“A dentist in my church who did dentures agreed to provide them for free,” said Armour, a member of First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa. “What a blessing to our patient, and what a blessing to all of us who were involved — people calling on the Body of Christ to share their gifts and talents not only with one another, but the stranger in need.”
Sadly the man’s cancer eventually came back and he died earlier this year, Armour related.
“But I will never forget his beautiful smile and the joy he received from being able to chew again.”
That type of ministry is why the clinic exists, Armour asserted.
“That’s what we are here for — we want to help people and show them the love of Jesus.”
The nondenominational Good Samaritan Clinic was established in 1999 by a group of Baptist pastors in the Tuscaloosa area. The idea came from Linda Boyd, a local nurse who was concerned about the growing need for health care among the working poor.
More than two decades later the ministry is going strong, providing medical and dental care along with medications like insulin for those who can’t afford it.
The clinic is housed in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association’s ministry center and supported by the association as well as Pickens Baptist Association and churches and individuals in the area.
Jeff Knight, lead mission strategist for Tuscaloosa Association, noted the clinic “is a blessing for so many families in the Tuscaloosa area.”
“We get to partner with a first-class ministry that offers hope and physical healing to those in our community who just need a little help during a difficult time in their life,” he said.
Armour added the clinic is “a wonderful place” served by volunteer providers from all over the area, including medical and dental professionals, retired nurses and physicians, and residents from the Capstone Family Medicine Center at the University of Alabama.
They meet physical needs but also spiritual ones, Armour emphasized.
“We are able to pray with our patients and share with them as they will allow.”
Many express gratitude for the help they receive and ask the staff how they’re able to provide it for free.
“We tell them, ‘There are a lot of people who have experienced the love of Jesus that want to help their neighbors in need,’” Armour said. “‘Even though you have never met them, they want you to not only have a healthy life but an opportunity to know and love Jesus for a long time.’”
For more information visit gscclinic.org.