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Church health clinic provides 'a safety net' for patients

Hannah Covington Published: July 23, 2013
Photo by KT KING, The Oklahoman
Photo by KT KING, The Oklahoman

Nancy Camp looks down at her clipboard and up again at the full waiting room.

It’s about 5 p.m. The free weekly health clinic at Little Flower Church is almost over.

Camp calls a name and helps a young woman with two children into one of three examination rooms inside the snug brick facility at 1125 S Walker Ave.

As a 21-year volunteer at the clinic, Camp, 52, has become a familiar face for the patients waiting quietly in the cluster of 17 chairs from week to week.

Many have no where else to go for medical care and have been coming to the clinic since it opened in 1990.

“The people feel safe here,” Camp said.

Most of the patients are without health insurance. About 97 percent are Hispanic, many from Mexico.

Being connected with the church has helped build a sense of trust with a Hispanic community wary of questions often asked elsewhere, she said.

“At other places, they don’t know if someone is watching for immigration and things like that,” Camp said.

The line often starts to form outside the clinic an hour before it opens every Wednesday at 4 p.m. The facility can only accommodate about 15-20 patients at a time.

Volunteer health workers at Little Flower help more than 700 people each year, prescribing medicine and making sure they get the treatment they need, Camp said.

The Oklahoma City native grew up attending Little Flower Church and describes herself as a devout Catholic.

“I couldn’t imagine it any other way,” she said. “As a rule, faith is big among the Hispanic families.”

Symbols of faith hang on the waiting room’s warm yellow walls.

Next to the check-in counter, a crucifix.

On the opposite wall, a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She is revered as the patron saint of Mexico — and the Americas.

“People see a connection to the church as a safety net for them,” Camp said. “They see the church as a place that would never deny them or turn them away.”

MORE INFORMATION:

What: Little Flower Church free health clinic

Where: 1125 S Walker Ave.

When: Every Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Anyone interested can call the church office at (405) 235-2037.