Michelle, a Kingsport native, had lived outside the area for 26 years. When she returned, she quickly felt a calling to give back to her community.
“Ron Davis was very instrumental in my joining First Baptist Church and he shared with me all of the available opportunities in which I could become involved. I really felt a calling to help provide Spiritual Support here at Providence Medical Clinic,” Michelle began. “To me the one-on-one conversations with our patients help volunteers get to know them, breaks down walls, earns trust, and shows them that they matter, they’re not just a number. We never know what people will remember or what seeds we have planted with our kind words.”
Jim Tackett, the Chairman of the Board at Providence, added that “we serve the poorest of the poor in Kingsport.” The 81-year-old Eastman retiree began working with the clinic 10 years ago.
“It was a real eye-opener for me,” he explained. “Sixty percent of our clients have no income beyond food stamps and are trapped in generational poverty,” he continued. “It’s not a fancy or pretty job but the fact is that our volunteers can make a real difference in the lives of others with the overwhelming number of opportunities available here.”
Providence Medical Clinic offers primary and acute care programs that include preventive care, patient education, prescriptions, lab tests, social services assistance, women’s health services, and counseling referrals. They also provide specialty clinics that include Ophthalmology, Infectious Disease with Hepatitis C treatments, Pulmonary, Orthopedic, Neurology, Women’s Health, Cardiology, and Surgery. ETSU School of Medicine has embraced Providence and provides assistance on a regular basis.
“These students get a hands-on experience here,” added Michelle. “It’s not just computer-based learning; they actually interact with the patients and learn how to treat people who are so appreciative of the help that they are receiving.”
For patients who have advanced diseases, there are also two hospice groups who give assistance to the them.
The value that Providence Medical Clinic adds to the community is phenomenal. “In 2018, we contributed $2.8 million dollars,” explained Jim. “Our patient load has increased 300 percent over the last four years and our needs continue to grow right along with that increase. Most of our funds are raised locally from church donations, businesses and individuals but the community can always help by making private donations.” The address to mail monetary gifts is: Providence Medical Clinic, PO Box 1323, Kingsport, TN 37662.
“If someone donates just $100, that will purchase the prescriptions for two patients for a month,” added Michelle. “And if they give $200, that covers the cost for one month of diabetes treatment and supplies for one patient. We work with pharmaceutical companies to obtain the costly non generic medications and work with Food City on Eastman Road and Mac’s Medicine to achieve the lowest cost for generic medications.”
Another way the community can help is to participate in the AmazinGrace 5K Race which is coming up on May 5.
“There’s just something different about this place” is a phrase that’s heard from many of the patients who visit Providence Medical Clinic. “We’re a faith-based clinic that stands on the principle of the love of Christ,” explained Michelle.
“When you work with people and minister to them and help them understand that there’s a power greater than all, then as a volunteer you can share the love that Christ instructs us to spread among the people. Acts 20:35 says, ‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Michelle, Jim and a host of volunteers that include doctors, nurses, surgeons, clerical and spiritual support personnel stand ready to do God’s will at 441 Clay Street. Is that a coincidence? For Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet you, Lord are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. As Michelle believes, “it’s not odd; it’s God.”