Medical clinic is a godsend in Monroeville

It only took a year for the word to get out about a free medical clinic at the Monroeville Assembly of God church.

"We're kind of busting at the seams here," said Robert Beasley, a member of the church and one of five doctors who volunteer at the clinic from 6 to 9 p.m. every Thursday.

The clinic, part of the church's Sheep Inc. ministries, opened on Nov. 4, 2010, to serve uninsured and underinsured children and adults. A team of 55 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and social workers volunteer at the clinic, with seven or eight volunteers available each week.

When the clinic first opened, people would trickle in, but a year later, the clinic sees 12 to 15 patients a night. In its first year, 500 people were treated at the clinic.

"As a physician, this is something that I always dreamed of doing," said Dr. Beasley, a family physician with Premier Medical Associates in Penn Hills.

Premier has donated several thousand dollars and medical supplies to help keep the clinic running, according to Premier CEO Mark DeRubeis.

"Dr. Beasley actually has a number of charitable activities that he has engaged in over the years ... and we are involved in supporting those endeavors," Mr. DeRubeis said.

Dr. Beasley said a lot of the people who visit the clinic just need standard medical care.

"In a clinic like this, you see a lot of basic stuff that doesn't get treated," he said.

He said he sees a lot of patients who have untreated diabetes. He gave one woman free supplies so she could check her blood sugar levels.

"It's not the more complicated things that you treat here," he said.

Dr. Beasley added that one young man traveled to the clinic from Johnstown just because he was required to get a physical exam before he could begin to work. But without health insurance, even something as simple as a physical can be prohibitively expensive.

Last Thursday, Simone Eckstein, 35, of Monroeville came to the clinic because she had cold symptoms she couldn't shake. She found out about the clinic when she brought her son to the church during a school supplies giveaway at the beginning of the school year.

Ms. Eckstein, who is between jobs, called the church's programs "a blessing."

"I'm rarely insured," she said. "I'm often underinsured."

Dr. Beasley checked her ears and throat and diagnosed her with a sinus infection and wrote her a prescription for antibiotics.

Sheep Inc. partners with pharmacies at Giant Eagle, Shop 'n Save and Target to get free medicine to people who visit the clinic. Patients are given a voucher at the clinic to receive medications for free. Sheep Inc. then reimburses the pharmacy for the medicines.

The clinic is seeking monetary donations as well as medical supplies such as a machine to run simple blood tests on site and an EKG machine. To volunteer or donate, call 412-856-7900 and ask to speak with someone in the clinic.