History of the Smithville Community Clinic - Why Free Healthcare?
In early 2004, the First United Methodist Church of Smithville established a local Amos Committee to provide leadership in matters of public policy and justice issues. During this time, Dr. Reverend Karen S. Boehk was the newly appointed Pastor of the Smithville congregation and understood how important it was to meet the Austin District Amos Commission of the United Methodist church expectations.
The local Amos Committee discussed the lack of healthcare for the poor and vulnerable as a specific justice issue that needed to be addressed. In the Spirit of Jesus Christ and of the Hebrew prophets like Amos, they prayerfully sought to discern God’s will for Smithville and the surrounding rural areas. This was the beginning of plans and actions to open a community health clinic for the Smithville community. It was during this time FUMC began the process to form the not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization which was given the name Smithville Community Clinic (SCC). A Board of Directors was created and an Executive Director was appointed.
In late 2004, the Lone Star Circle of Care (LSCC) partnered with the SCC Board to assist in the process. About the same time the FUMC purchased a former medical clinic across the street from the church. Naturally, the LSCC partnership and the new building seemed like a good fit, but regrettably the FUMC church members decided on additional teaching and classroom space. Disappointed but determined, the SCC Board of Directors continued to pursue solutions for a viable clinic location.
Shortly after this minor setback, Rev. Boehk had learned about an organization in the Houston area called Christian Alliance. The organization converts 8’ x 40’ containers into medical clinics and ships them to other countries to provide workspace for medical mission teams. After learning this good news, several members of the SCC Board made the journey to visit to their facility and view the converted containers. On the way home to Smithville two Board members (Mr. Gene and Doris Sampson) spoke up and offered to donate one of their properties in Smithville for the container. Without pause, board member (Tommy Davis) chimed in and offered one of his 8’ x 40’ containers sitting at his farm.
Soon afterwards, Mr. Tommy Davis delivered the container to 300 Lynch Street, the current location of the SCC, and work began. Joining Mr. Davis in the work of transforming the container into a clinic was Judge David Herrington and Mr. Jim Bailey. These men were soon joined by a number of volunteers and local businesses - truly a Community project. Clara Beckett, Bastrop County Commissioner, Precinct #2 was instrumental in building the parking lot. Throughout the construction phase LSCC continued to offer clinical guidance, but by the time the facility was completed, the partnership between LSCC and the SCC was discontinued.
In the midst of the separation from LSCC, Dr. Rev. Boehk, SCC Board Chairperson became aware of the Lone Star Association of Charitable Clinics (LSACC), now known as the Texas Association of Charitable Clinics (TXACC). Dr.Rev. Boehk invited their Executive Director Ms. Jody Hopkins to speak to the SCC Board about the free and charitable clinics role and missions in Texas and throughout the nation. At the conclusion of Ms. Hopkins’ presentation the SCC Board Members knew this organization could provide the proper leadership, mentorship and guidance for growth and sustainability.
In 2009 the clinic began seeing patients on Saturdays for a little over a year. In 2010 the clinic had to close due to loss of 501 (C) (3) status. Proper IRS filing had not been accomplished. In February 2012 a revived board of directors and Ms. K-Lee Starland, Executive Director established an initial business plan which outlined several components for the future success of the clinic. More importantly, they conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis which clearly identified future funding and a strong viable volunteer force as both a weakness and threat. The clinic faced both of these challenges but continued to persevere. In late 2012, the clinic reapplied for non-for-profit status and in March 2013, the clinic was reinstated and clinic operations began once more.
In July of 2013 the clinic officially opened its doors and within the past five years has seen over 1500 patients during Saturday operational hours. The clinic enlisted the cooperation of ~ 23 volunteers currently comprised of one (1) physician (Medical Director), two (2) physician assistants, one (1) registered nurse practitioner, ten (10) registered nurses, three (3) Behavioral Health Counselors, four (4) data entry personnel, one (1) Clinic Coordinator and one (1) Executive Director. From July 2013 through June of 2019, the core group of volunteers logged over 7500 donated hours with a monetary value of over $225,000 dollars as reflected from clinic volunteer sign in sheets.
In January 14, 2014, the board of directors outlined an action plan to meet some of their goals and objectives as stated in their business plan. The clinic reached out to the community and conducted door to door interviews with over 135 residents (without health insurance) to establish awareness and use of the clinic. 72% of those interviewed were aware the clinic existed and over 41% had used the clinic since it opened.
In March of 2014, the clinic’s website was established as www.smvcc.org (since 2018 www.smithvillecommunityclinic.org) and on January 20, 2015, a strategic development meeting was conducted with the new Executive Director Janice Bruno (Retired COL, US Army) and the Board of Directors. This meeting was held to establish the way-ahead and formalize a strategic plan for the clinic. Results include a mission map which outlines the clinics values, resources, people goals, core functions, stakeholder expectations, mission and vision. The clinic’s financial plan includes a budget which focuses on the primary goals and objectives of the organization. An independent review was conducted in 2014 and 2015. Ray C.P.A. Round Rock, Texas is conducting the independent review for 2017.
Recent operational changes for 2017-2018 included:
- Receipt of Operational Grants: Methodist Healthcare Ministries, St. David’s Foundation, Americares Inc. and Direct Relief
- Contracted Executive Director/Community Director, Clinic Coordinator, 3 Licensed Professional Counselors, 3 Behavioral Health Advocates, 1 registered nurse and 1 bilingual patient navigator.
- Conducted two Fast Track to Health Diabetic Outreach Programs
- Women’s Practitioner on board for Women’s Health September 7, 2018
- Website name change to www.smithvillecommunityclinic.org.
- Dental Site Visit by St. David’s Foundation
- Awarded Dental Van – Received Van on 27 Nov 2018 with Ribbon Cutting Nov 30, 2018
- House of Ruth – Women’s Transitional Housing Facility
The House of Ruth transitional housing facility for woman was approved by the Smithville Community Clinic’s board of directors in November of 2018 and work began to create a space for women and a Housing Director (House Mom). The House of Ruth is a temporary and safe housing facility for women who are waiting on more permanent housing with the Smithville and/or Bastrop Housing Authority or another more permanent solution to call home. The mission is to provide physical, mental, and spiritual support for individuals who are or who have been in a homeless situation and are waiting on a more permanent solution. We are using GODs word and truth from the Old Testament Book of Ruth: “Under whose wings you have come to take refuge” Ruth 12:2. The goals are to provide a faith based hope and healing to those without means and provide safe temporary housing for women and children (not exceeding 10 years old) who are in transition. The Smithville Community Clinic is the governing body for the House of Ruth and sets governance, policy and procedures. Financially, the House of Ruth is supported through the SCC by donations from the community and other grant opportunities. The facility is located at 206 Prima Street and is designated a community facility (CF) in the Smithville zoning guide.
The clinic has collaborated with local businesses, private donors and strategic partners (i.e., Bastrop County, Bastrop Community Cares, Bluebonnet Trails Mental Health, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, City of Smithville, First United Methodist Church Smithville, First Presbyterian Church, State Farm, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Mt Pilgrim Baptist Church, Roscoe Bank, Smithville Ministerial Alliance, Smithville Noon Lions Club, Direct Relief, JFON, Empty Bowl, FUMC Men’s Group, Bastrop Rotary Club, Smithville Regional Hospital Auxiliary, Smithville Housing Authority, St. Vincent De Paul Charities, Seton Family Healthcare, CVS Caremark, Smithville and Wal-Mart pharmacies, 1st National Bank, Americares Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, Seton Ascension Hospital, First Baptist Church, Doug’s Plumbing and Clarence’s Refrigeration, Cynthia and Scott Mitchell Foundation, Allstate Foundation, Calibri Logistics and many other public and private donors.
The Smithville Community Clinic is a well-located, caring and valuable service for those who require immediate healthcare and relief without having to go to the local emergency rooms. Through a coordinated effort with our strategic partners it plans to achieve a 10-15% overall increase in its outreach and health education to its local citizens, expand its operational hours and become a more effective, viable resource to Smithville and Bastrop County. Today the clinic provides patient benefits (i.e., preventative healthcare education, behavioral health, referrals and at no cost to the patient) in addition to community benefits (i.e., bypass local hospital emergency room visits, assist the indigent and offers volunteer service opportunities to our local citizens).
Smithville is a unique place where people work hard to get things done. Government, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and citizens work together as a team to improve the quality of life for all. This partnership model has been highly effective. “It’s Possible in Smithville” is the rallying cry of the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce largely because community members take full advantage of state, federal, commercial and foundation program funding in an effort to maximize resources available here, particularly volunteer skills and time. These partnerships have all contributed to build a strong culture of health. Many of our citizens need further education and training, better economic opportunities, and assistance to give them a “leg up” from people willing to give. People are generous here and come together to solve issues related to those social determinants of health and welfare.