The Staff at Hope Healthcare Services is Eager to Serve the Community
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Nearly 20 years ago, the former senior pastor of Kingsway Christian Church, John Caldwell, regularly preached a vision sermon, as he had a dream of forming a care center that would include not just a food pantry and clothing ministry, but medical care as well. He wanted to find a way to provide low-cost, quality health care to individuals who don’t carry health insurance, since roughly 8% to 10% of the Hendricks County population does not have health insurance.
Though the church leaders were on board with the vision, they needed the means to make it happen. In 2003, a physician named Dr. David Cheeseman, who was a member of the congregation, approached the church about starting the medical clinic. That’s how Kingsway Community Care Center, later renamed Hope Healthcare Services, was born. Leaders of the nonprofit, incorporated in 2004, officially opened the doors in June of 2005. A month later, an oral surgeon from Kingsway, Dr. Rob McDonough, heard about the vision and offered his dental services as well.
Several years ago, the United Way did a study that perfectly defined Hope’s patient population. These folks fell under the designation of ALICE, an acronym for access limited, income constrained and employed. If someone’s income falls below the federal poverty guidelines, the staff at Hope Healthcare will encourage them to sign up for insurance through the government programs. The problem is that many don’t qualify for government programs because they earn too much, yet they don’t make enough money to cover basics like housing, transportation, child care, food and health care.
“Many times health insurance is the one that gets dropped,” says John Mollaun, executive director of Hope Healthcare Services since 2007. “Folks think, ‘I feel OK. I’ll get it later.’”
According to Mollaun, 59% of businesses in Hendricks County staff four or fewer employees. That means the employer is not required to provide insurance.
“That’s a large portion of people who are falling through the cracks – people who work at a small business or entrepreneurs or seasonal workers,” Mollaun says. “It could also be a situation where a family breaks up. One spouse had insurance and the other didn’t. Now the one without insurance is left to fend for themselves. There are myriad of reasons a person may find themselves uninsured. We’re here to catch those who are falling through the cracks and hopefully help them get better health.”
When they renamed the organization in 2015, they asked patients for input. Hope is the word that sprang to mind because it’s the feeling that abounds.
“They said, ‘Hope is what you are to us,’” Mollaun says.
In 2019, Indiana University Health Foundation provided a two-year grant that enabled Hope Healthcare to hire their first staff practitioners – a physician’s assistant one day per week and a nurse practitioner one day per week. This was a big deal because up until then, they only worked with volunteers. Volunteers have full-time jobs, which means most of them are only able to work a single three- to four-hour shift per month. Though that grant ended in 2020, they have been able to continue staffing through other fundraising.
Currently, in terms of volunteers, Hope Healthcare has two pediatricians, a urologist, a gynecologist, a chiropractor, a dermatologist, a dietician, an endodontist who does root canals, and an oral surgeon. The dentists are able to provide cleanings, fillings, extractions, crowns and dentures. In addition, Ann McCafferty with the Indiana Rural Health Association comes in one day per week to help patients file for insurance. She also connects folks to all kinds of available resources.
“I could lose any of these services at any time should they choose to stop volunteering,” Mollaun says. “I could also gain a new service at any time. For instance, a neurologist recently expressed an interest in possibly volunteering.”
When patients come to Hope Healthcare, they pay a nominal fee at the time of service.
“We are not a free clinic because it allows us to continue at a much higher capacity,” Mollaun says. “We also think it adds dignity to the patients that they are paying something for the services.”
A visit with a staff provider is $30, and it costs $10 to see a volunteer. Make no mistake – this is not a charity clinic offering substandard care. The doctors who volunteer here are the same ones you’ll see in local hospitals and health-care offices.
Though Hope Healthcare has had some of the same volunteers since its inception, most of them typically volunteer for several years until changing life circumstances no longer make it viable.
“Sometimes volunteers say they’d like to come in once a week, but we don’t want our volunteers to burn themselves out so we suggest volunteering once a month,” Mollaun says.
Though Hope Healthcare Services is a faith-based clinic, they see people of any faith or no faith at all.
“There is certainly no coercion,” Mollaun says.
Sometimes doctors pray with the patients, but not without permission.
“Many of the volunteers here are motivated by their commitment to the kingdom of God, and we don’t hide that,” Mollaun says. “There is a spiritual aspect to what we do here. It’s kind of the heart and soul of who we are. We love people unconditionally.”
Patients can typically see a medical practitioner within a day or two. The dental side, however, is booked out by several months. The primary question Mollaun fields is from people wanting to know whether they can see a dentist at Hope if they have medical insurance but not dental insurance. Unfortunately the answer is no, simply due to capacity.
“If I took everyone who has medical insurance but no dental insurance, we’d be booked 900 years into the future because most people don’t have dental insurance,” Mollaun says. “Our only criteria here is that you carry no insurance – no VA, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no private medical or private dental.”
The one exception to that rule is if someone has Medicare Part A for hospitalization only, or Medicaid for emergency only.
Despite the challenges the pandemic has presented, some positives emerged from the experience. For instance, they began offering car-side visits and telehealth appointments. They also developed new alliances with local schools because when most of their senior student volunteers dropped out, that gap was filled by student workers from Avon High School and other learning institutions.
“I honestly think we became a stronger clinic,” says Mollaun, who is pleased by the overwhelming community support for Hope Healthcare.
For instance, a whopping 90% of their equipment and furniture in the building was donated. “It’s beautiful to see the way everyone has rallied around us to fulfill this need.”
Hope Healthcare Services is located at 107 Park Place Boulevard in Avon. For more information, call 317-272-0708 or visit myhopehealth.org.
Hope Healthcare Services Hope) provides low-cost medical, dental, and mental health services to our neighbors who lack all forms of health insurance (medical and dental.)
Hope has both paid staff and volunteer medical and dental providers treating patients–including several specialties. In addition, Hope works with area vendors to provide significant discounts (up to 90%) on labs, imaging, and sleep studies.
Hope’s mission is to minister to the physical and spiritual health burdens of uninsured people in our community as the hands and feet of Jesus.