On June 28 the historic E.C. Tyree Health & Dental Clinic closed its doors. The clinic, from inception to close was grassroots all the way through. Last year the clinic provided care for 5,025 individual patients, and had over 8,324 visits. Word of mouth over the years had helped thousands of people get access to good healthcare.

The director and CEO for the past 18 years, Schaunta James-Boyd is optimistic about the process and what the future may hold.

“We left with an upstanding reputation, as Kansas’ longest running safety net clinic. As director, I have no regrets about the work we were able to accomplish.”

When the clinic first opened, it was intended to run as a ministry of Saint Mark United Methodist Church. The ministry’s purpose was to provide access to medical care for the working, and poor of the neighborhood. The clinic ran using a volunteer model for years. People volunteered their professional services in the areas of front desk support, doctors and nurses, etc., a few evenings every week.

The clinic had applied for and hoped to receive status as a Federally Qualified Health Center, which would have qualified them for more and larger federal support. Although their application had been submitted, they had to make a decision on whether the clinic was sustainable until the FQHC status was received – it would not be.

James-Boyd wants the community to know that, the decision wasn’t made easily. At some point, “each clinic in town was in our position but were able to receive assistance from the government. Unfortunately, we did not get to reach that (assistance) but it is critical to support our safety net clinics, and to vote for (elected officials who will vote for) the expansion of Medicaid to assist these clinics in the cost of care. It will give everyone the ability to get care before they are at critical stages.”

Former clinic clients who want to get their records forwarded to a new physician or dentist, should call the clinic ASAP at 316-681-2545.

Saint Mark UMC is planning a recognition for James-Boyd, for her 18 years of faithful service, during their 10 a.m. service on Sun., July 27.

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