HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Third Street Clinic marks 20 years of service
Twenty years after it was founded, the Third Street Clinic in Grand Forks is no longer located on Third Street, nor is it really a clinic. But the mission of the nonprofit organization, to provide health care for people who aren't eligible to get...
Twenty years after it was founded, the Third Street Clinic in Grand Forks is no longer located on Third Street, nor is it really a clinic.
But the mission of the nonprofit organization, to provide health care for people who aren't eligible to get it from other agencies and who lack the resources to pay for it themselves, remains the same.
The clinic is, as its logo says, "A Clinic Without Walls."
"The outreach goes to people all over," said Sue Shirek, who chairs the Third Street Clinic board of directors. Meanwhile, Third Street Clinic patients, who are from Grand Forks and Polk County, Minn., receive health care from people throughout the health care industry in the Grand Forks area.
"This isn't about this clinic, it's about everybody out there," Shirek said.
The Third Street Clinic, now located at 311 South Fourth Street, was founded in 1989 by Dr. Tim Hockenberry, a former UND Medical School resident. Then located at 27½ North Third Street, the clinic was open one night a week and staffed by medical school residents and by physicians who volunteered their time to see patients who had no insurance and no other assistance, such as Medicaid and Medicare.
Because the health care industry is constantly changing, the Third Street Clinic is too.
"There's always something that needs to be done. There are always services that need to be provided... That's the beauty of what we do here. We're not stuck in one specific area," Shirek said.
For example, several years after it opened, the Third Street Clinic started holding regular business hours and scheduling appointments with residents and physicians working for Altru Health System, rather than having the doctors come to the clinic one night a week. The physicians and residents who treat the patients donate their services.
The revised system provides more timely health care for the patient, Shirek said.
"If you were sick on a Wednesday morning you would have had to wait until Tuesday night to see someone," she said.
Besides making appointments for medical doctors, the office staff at the Third Street Clinic also schedule dental and eye doctor appointments for its patients and help them order their prescriptions. Pharmacists who are on the board of the Third Street Clinic look at the prescriptions and help patients find one that will treat the medical problem. The pharmacists provide their medications at cost through the Third Street Clinic.
In addition to giving them quicker access to health care services, another advantage of sending patients to residents and physicians, rather than having them go once weekly to the Third Street Clinic for care, is that it allows them to maintain their dignity, Shirek said.
"They go in and see a regular doctor like everyone else."
Shirek, a Third Street Clinic board member for nearly a decade, believes in the mission of the clinic, which is to help people in the community get access to health care.
"Who wouldn't want to make this a better place to live?"
The patients are people who "pull their own weight" and work hard, but who have taken a financial hit, Shirek said.
"We're here to help you through the tough times."
Bailey writes for special features sections. Reach her at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .