St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic is located on the site of the former Our Lady of Angels Maternity Hospital for African American women. Father Joseph J. Raleigh built the hospital in 1946 next to the convent after he realized there was not a public hospital within 75 miles of Pensacola that would accept African-American maternity cases, forcing black and creole women to have their babies at home. An order of Franciscan nuns from Pennsylvania administered Our Lady of Angels Hospital for two decades until local hospitals were integrated in the mid 1960s.
Our Lady of Angels St. Joseph Medical Clinic was established in 2002 by a small group of local physicians and parishioners. Its mission is to provide medical and dental services for uninsured, low-income patients in Escambia County.
“By 2001, I became concerned about the growing number of people in our community who did not have health care because of their inability to afford it,” said Dr. Conkle, a retired heart surgeon and the Medical Director for St. Joseph Clinic. “With those thoughts, I went to St. Joseph Catholic Church and with the help of the congregation and Bishop John Ricard, we opened St. Joseph Medical Clinic in the spring of 2002.”
Today, St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic is staffed entirely by a volunteer group of doctors, dentists, nurses, social workers and administrative personnel. The clinic has 82 volunteer providers who work tirelessly to assist the working poor, the uninsured and the homeless in Escambia County.
“We waited three weeks before our first patient arrived in 2002,” said Conkle. “And this fiscal year, we’ve cared for more than 4,500 patients.”
The clinic’s financial support comes from St. Joseph Catholic Church, community grants and from charitable donations by the community. The clinic’s primary expense is the cost of prescription drugs.
The clinic was awarded an IMPACT 100 grant in 2009 for the construction of four patient exam rooms and a physician room. Bill and Faye Flowers donated their time to build the 832-square-foot addition.
In 2014, another IMPACT 100 grant funded the purchase of basic diagnostic equipment that allowed the volunteer physicians to treat the clinic’s patients more efficiently. The new equipment helped support the treatment of patients with diabetes, heart and lung disease and included an ultrasound system, electrocardiogram machine, vital signs monitor, spirometer, ophthalmoscope, sterilization equipment and CoaguChek monitor. In addition, the grant funded new waiting room furniture, providing a more welcoming environment for the patients – contributing to their sense of self worth and wellbeing.
Also in 2014, the Metabolic Syndrome Clinic opened on Mondays to address the needs of the overweight and obese, primarily those with diabetes and heart disease. Its volunteer staff is multidisciplinary: physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, interpreters and clerical staff are on hand to provide services. The approach to care is collaborative: after an initial visit and evaluation, patients follow a care plan through individual counseling, weekly classes and referral to needed outside services. From January- June 2019, the metabolic syndrome clinic served 92 patients with 266 clinic visits.
Our Lady of Angels St. Joseph Medical Clinic is open four days per week:
The following statistics from July 2018 to June 2019 help to quantify the strength of every dollar donated to the clinic:
St. Joseph Clinic by the numbers (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019):
Longtime supporter Millie Green of Pensacola spearheaded the Michael E. Green Prescription Fund to honor her late husband, who died in 2003. Green has been instrumental in helping to organize and champion the Gospel & Gumbo biennial charity fundraiser.
“Mike loved St. Joseph and would be thrilled knowing that its patients are leaving the clinic with the medicines that they need,” she said. “I knew when we started this it was going to benefit a lot of people. But I had no idea how much joy it would bring me.”
In its 14-year existence, more than $450,000 has been raised for non-narcotic prescription drugs and laboratory costs.
“Our primary expense is for prescription drugs, and from anybody’s standard, this fund has been tremendously helpful,” adds Dr. David Conkle, Medical Director for St. Joseph Clinic.
Many major pharmaceutical companies have established assistance programs that provide individuals who meet their financial criteria free prescription medicines. Each company has its own application and eligibility protocol. Therefore each company’s application form and process is unique to that company.
Many clinics and hospitals around the country have established Pharmacy Assistance Programs (PAP) to help their patients take advantage of these free medicines. The application process can be challenging and intimidating, thus the need to provide assistance to patients wishing to apply.
St. Joseph Medical Clinic established a PAP for its patients in 2004.
At St. Joseph’s, until 2009, if a clinic physician wished to obtain a medication for a patient through PAP, it was necessary to research the medication to determine which company was the manufacturer. The clinic then would contact the company by phone or Internet to determine if the company had a PAP program, and if so, which medicines were offered. The clinic would request applications through the mail or from web sites. Eventually the clinic established company files and over time built a resource library.
In 2009, the clinic was fortunate enough to be included in the Medical Data system — an Internet computer program that allows the user to gain access to information on the vast number of pharmaceutical companies that offer medicines through their PAP programs. Using the system, the clinic can instantly determine if a medication is available and print and complete applications. This system is an extremely valuable tool. There is a cost to use this program. Sacred Heart Hospital allows St. Joseph Medical Clinic to have access to the program through their membership.
The PAP program saves a great deal of money for the clinic. The medications ordered often are very expensive. Usually, when a generic equivalent is available, the pharmaceutical company will discontinue offering the name brand product. Thus, not only does the program save money for the clinic, but also patients are often able to obtain medications that they would not otherwise be able to get.