Doctors, Volunteers Provide Free Clinic

As a physician, a husband and a father of two, one might think that Dr. Robert Beasley would spend his off hours actually being off.

However, every Thursday Dr. Beasley, a family practice and osteopathic physician with Premier Medical Associates, spends his would-be off hours operating a free medical clinic called Sheep Inc. Health Care Center. The clinic, an outreach ministry at the Monroeville Assembly of God Church where Dr. Beasley is a member, provides basic primary care for uninsured and underinsured and underserved adults and children.

Dr. Beasley and a team of 50 medical volunteers make themselves available every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the clinic located at the church, 4561 Old William Penn Highway. The clinic also offers $4 generic medications that can be provided on the spot.

"I've always had it in my heart to do something like this," Dr. Beasley said. "It's part of the ministry of our church. It's a way of being able to help people." The clinic falls in line with the church's homeless and orphan ministries, he added.

The clinic has been operating for more than a year. To make the community aware that the clinic existed, fliers were posted in places that serve the community (like Goodwill), and of course, fellow church members helped spread the word as well. "We've been getting a lot of people," Dr. Beasley said. "Initially, we started out with 10-15 people every Thursday and sometimes a little bit more."

The number of people utilizing the clinic has grown to the point that the clinic is now trying to find a bigger location in the Monroeville area. "It's kind of like a mobile clinic, almost," said Dr. Beasley. He explained that tables and chairs and some other equipment have to be brought to the church on the day the clinic operates, although they do have some storage space there.

Although the clinic is located in Monroeville, those seeking services have come from as far away as Johnstown. "It's amazing…some of the people, where they come from," Dr. Beasley said. "Sometimes people are visiting family and figure they might as well stop by the clinic. There are people who are between jobs, looking for work but can't afford insurance. A lot of people slip through the cracks in our system. It's unfortunate, but those are the people we're trying to help."

While the clinic does not handle emergencies, it can provide primary care for things like bad colds or blood pressure checks or getting physical forms filled out. "The clinic is really just doctors who care," said Dr. Beasley.

It's not just doctors, however; there are also volunteer nurses, including Dr. Beasley's wife, Robin, who serves as volunteer director. "My wife sets up the clinic schedule and we rotate all the volunteers. She's a nurse by trade, so it's something that we can do together and we have a heart to do that together. That's a real blessing there," Dr. Beasley said. The couple have two daughters: Lettie, who is in college, and Nellie, a high school student.

The clinic is looking to recruit more physicians and nurse practitioners. Another one of Dr. Beasley's goals for the clinic is to add other services, such as dentistry. Currently, the clinic is in the process of obtaining its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Right now it is operating with donations from the church and from Premier Medical Associates.

Dr. Beasley said those who come to the clinic are very grateful that it's there. "God's command is that we help people," he said. "At the end of the day, people will look at that. This is all really about Him."

Dr. Beasley envisions that one day his clinic will be able to operate with the backing of a number of churches, similar to a clinic in Columbus, Ohio, which has 60-70 churches supporting it. "When 60 churches come together, can you imagine what they can do?" he said. "Everybody would be able to benefit and ultimately the most important thing is people hear the good news about Christ."