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Lantern Medical Clinic expects summer opening

Mission for facility is ‘providing medical care to qualified working, uninsured individuals and families’

Mississippi’s working uninsured will be getting a break on healthcare, thanks to a new non-profit medical clinic to open in Pearl by this summer. The clinic is in need of more volunteer physicians before opening.

Lantern’s mission, according to its web site, lanternclinic.org, is “an after-hours clinic that seeks to glorify Christ by providing medical care to qualified working, uninsured individuals and families.”

Lantern Medical Clinic is targeting the working uninsured because they are “people who are slipping through the cracks,” said clinic board member and spokesperson Dr. Holt Crews, an OBGYN physician in Jackson.

The “working uninsured” is a term used for people who earn modest salaries and can’t afford private insurance coverage, yet earn too much to be covered by public programs such as Medicaid. With 24 percent uninsured, according to a 2009 Gallup poll, Mississippi ranks third among the top 10 states with the highest percentages of uninsured citizens.

At least initially, care from the non-profit clinic will be free for patients, Crews said.

Lantern is located at 3218 Service Drive in Pearl, on the frontage road to U.S. 80 near Kroger. Crews said they picked the location so the clinic would be easily accessible for people from Jackson, Brandon, Terry, Byram and other cities.

In addition to donations, Lantern needs more volunteer physicians before it can open, Crews said. “Our big need is for primary care physicians, because that’s the bulk of what we’re going to do,” he said.

The clinic currently has a mix of more than 10 primary care doctors who have already volunteered their services, but Lantern’s goal is to have 20 to 25 primary care physicians on board before opening.

The clinic also plans to periodically offer specialty services such as dental and GYN. Emergency services will not be offered.

The group plans to start with one physician each evening, Mondays through Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The goal is to have enough volunteers so each person can work once every six to eight weeks, Crews said.

Lantern’s board is a mix of doctors, dentists and businessmen, including: cardiologist Dr. Reid Cotton; OBGYN physician Dr. Shannon Carroll; psychologist Dr. Bufkin Moore; Bryan Rutledge with Regions Bank; Doug Hederman of Hederman Brothers Printing; dentist Dr. Mike Tramel; and, Crews. Steve Morris is the clinic administrator.

An anonymous donor provided money to purchase the 2,000-square-foot clinic building, which volunteers began renovating in September. The project will hopefully be finished in about a month, Crews said, opening by late spring or early summer. The facility will accommodate two physicians.

First Presbyterian Church in Jackson and several Baptist churches, including First Baptist in Pearl, Grace Baptist in Brandon and McLaurin Heights in Pearl, are supporting the clinic, along with hospitals such as Baptist and St. Dominic’s. The Cellular South Foundation has also contributed to the new facility.

The clinic is a non-denominational entity; we want the support to be as broad as possible, Crews said.

In February Jackson Preparatory School announced that its junior and senior high students had adopted Lantern as its community partner of the year. Students have collected items to help furnish the clinic office and examination rooms which has helped a lot, he said.

Those interested may visit lanternclinic.org for volunteer information.

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About Amy McCullough