Adding New Meaning to “Medical Home”

Anna Garber and Sandi Moerdorf are regular volunteers at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic

Anna Garber and Sandi Moerdorf at Mountain Hope’s Free Physicals Event.

As volunteer paper pusher during the free physicals held twice a year at Mountain Hope, I sit behind a desk in the lobby. I have a clear view of who comes in the door, and can usually tell at a glance if someone is a new patient or if they’ve been here before. The new patients come in more timidly, looking from side to side. The regulars walk straight up to the office windows.

There was no doubt in my mind about the young woman who came through the door one afternoon at the latest free physicals session. She was making for the office windows. But her two children, a girl and boy ages about 3 and 4, had other plans.

No sooner were they in the door than they rushed off to the far corner of the room, running as fast as they could. I was puzzled until I remembered – the toy box sits in that corner.  The little girl was in such a hurry that she pulled off her coat as she ran and tossed it behind her.

It was such a delightful scene that I laughed aloud. These children already knew that they would find toys in that corner, and they may also have known that each child is allowed to take one toy home.  They were comfortable with the Clinic. Their mother was there for her physical, but the children were just as much at home there as she was. It gave a new meaning to the phrase “medical home,” which is how the staff wants patients to feel about the Clinic.

Another incident during the same health fair underlined the message. One morning, a middle-aged man came in, slightly bent and obviously distressed. He was not feeling well. He asked how long the physical would take – at least an hour from start to finish – and said he wasn’t sure he could last that long. We said that was fine, he could leave if he didn’t complete it all.

Some time later, we saw him in the lobby getting ready to leave. He’d completed his physical, was standing taller and looking and feeling better. “Dr. Bob always puts a smile on my face,” he said.

Dr. Bob Valosik puts a smile on many faces every day. He and Dr. Dew both volunteer their extraordinary medical skills to our patients, but they also make patients feel comfortable. Mountain Hope has truly become a “medical home” to the uninsured of our community.

-Anna Garber, Volunteer