Free Tupelo health clinic for uninsured workers getting major upgrade to serve more patients
TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – A Tupelo health clinic that has spent 30 years providing free medical care for Lee County residents is being torn down.
But only because a new and improved facility is taking its place.
Since 1992, Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Health Services has provided free medical, dental and pharmacy services for working Lee County residents who can’t afford health insurance.
“We’re taking care of that group of working citizens,” says Amy Fagan, executive director for Good Samaritan Health Services. “Most of them work two or three jobs and they just want to continue working so they can provide for their families.”
Fagan says a significant number of people in Lee County are facing those circumstances. She says they are constantly welcoming in new patients. But years of electrical problems, plumbing damage and other issues have left them unable to take full advantage of the 5,000 square-foot building.
“We have seven exam rooms allotted (to us) but we’re only able to use two,” Fagan says.
“It’s come to a point where some of the equipment we have is outdated,” says Glenn Thomas, chairman of the board for Good Samaritan Health. “We were gracious to have it when it was donated to us.”
“The last thing we want to do is tell someone that we can’t accept them as a new patient,” Fagan says. “We’ve made it work, even through the pandemic. We’ve kind of moved people around.”
The new building will feature seven fully operational exam rooms and a drive-through pharmacy.
“So those that are working and busy and may not have time to stop what they’re doing, find a place to park, come in and get their prescription, they can come through a drive-through and pick up their medication,” Fagan says.
It will also feature a joint classroom and kitchen for teaching patients how to manage their diet or how to cook a meal for families on a budget.
“It’s very difficult to teach someone, maybe living with diabetes, how to change their lifestyle,” Fagan says. “How to cook a meal or plan a grocery list.”
Fagan says they expect the project to last six months and cost about $650,000.
“Enhancing the services we provide and increasing the number of patients that we see,” she says.
During construction, the clinic will operate out of the former HealthWorks building on 219 South Industrial Road.