Lifespring Shows Love | God's World News

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Lifespring Shows Love

05/01/2024
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    Lifespring Community Health serves families through medical care. (Lifespring Community Health)
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    In 2022, Lifespring served more than 2,000 children. (Lifespring Community Health)
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    Michele Pickett (left) and Jill Fikkert helped found the community health ministry. (Lifespring Community Health)
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    Patients may also deal with other needs such as hunger. Community health workers connect them with other resources. (Lifespring Community Health)
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    Jill Fikkert says the clinic was very busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Lifespring Community Health)
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At Lifespring Community Health in Chattanooga, Tennessee, any child can get medical care with dignity, no matter how much money his or her family has or doesn’t have. The clinic’s mission is to serve the underserved, says Jill Fikkert, co-founder and Director of Nursing.

Lifespring’s staff seeks to “demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ” while providing pediatric services to families, according to its website. Most of the clinic’s patients lack health insurance or have limited means. Some are refugees. Other patients have more financial resources. “We really do want to see everyone being served in the same way. And so we want to communicate to our underserved patients that they’re getting the same care” as those who can more easily pay, says Fikkert.

The community health ministry began in 2006 with four part-time staff members and volunteers. Now that number is closer to 30. In 2022, Lifespring served 2,188 children.

Lifespring provides preventative and sick care, but it doesn’t stop there. The clinic recently added mental health care. Fikkert says that it’s most helpful to have multiple providers in one place. It’s hard for many families to “figure out the money for gas or for a bus to get . . . to any other kind of provider like an eye doctor or an ear doctor or even the lab,” she says.

Staffers also connect families with food banks, bill pay help, and assistance with getting health insurance. Families can pray with staff. That’s because health depends on spiritual, mental, and emotional factors along with the physical, says Michele Pickett, co-founder and Executive Director.

Those who choose to work at the clinic are passionate about the mission. But there are challenges. “It’s difficult to take care of families who don’t have resources when the resources themselves are very expensive. Healthcare is just expensive,” Pickett says. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, revenue from the clinic covered about 50% of the organization’s operating expenses. As the practice and need has grown, revenue now funds just 30%. Donations cover the rest.

Finding and retaining staff can also be tough. “We really want people who are bought into the mission,” says Fikkert. The work is hard. Medical staff accept compensation well below what they could earn in a hospital or private practice.

But with the hard work comes blessing to the community. Lifespring is God’s “way of showing His love to the children and families we serve. We’re along for the ride,” says Pickett. “The glory goes to God.”

Why? Christians are called to share the love of Christ. That can happen in many ways, in word and in deed, but always in relationship with others.

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