DALLAS — Many have seen Facebook posts about GoFundMe campaigns aimed at helping someone or an organization in need. The generosity of people who care about the cause can sometimes be seen in dozens of donations equaling thousands of dollars.
A new GoFundMe campaign called “HELP! The Doctor Spot Is Down!” is experiencing an outpouring of generosity, raising more than $17,000 in its first two weeks online.
The Doctor Spot is a mobile pediatric clinic that offers free health care to children in some of Dallas County’s most medically underserved neighborhoods. For the last four years, the doctor’s office on wheels has traveled around Dallas to help kids who might otherwise not have access to health care--but they’re not so mobile anymore.
In February, an electrical fire took The Doctor Spot out of commission. While the "box" containing the actual clinic escaped damage, the truck's cab and engine compartment were damaged beyond repair.
The mobile clinic would set up in what Marisa-Joy Gingerich calls strategic “hot spots” such as schools, apartment complexes, and in parking lots of shopping centers, just to name a few. Gingerich is a family nurse practitioner with The Doctor Spot and is passionate about the work she does with the project.
“This is a cause I really believe in,” said Gingerich. “The good this operation provides for the community we serve is something I’m very proud to be a part of. We provide crucial care to the children who need it the most.”
The pool of patients Gingerich sees comes from approximately 71,000 uninsured children and 338,000 Medicaid enrollees in Dallas County, according to The Doctor Spot’s website, which also states 25% live below the federal poverty level that exceeds the state and national average.
The Doctor Spot is a service of The LifeSavers Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that aims to help people in crisis through its free mobile medical mission projects for women and children and the community at-large with goods from its resale store.
“Meeting people where they’re at is what we’re all about,” said Andres Pineda, The Doctor Spot’s clinic coordinator who’s helped the project since 2016. “Most of the children we offer services to are uninsured. They can’t just walk into a pediatric clinic and be seen, because they either don’t have insurance or don’t have the money to pay up front.”
While the mobile unit is out of service, Gingerich and Pineda operate a temporary clinic inside the Inspired Vision Compassion Center (IVCC), a food bank and resource center in the Dallas community of Pleasant Grove. The center has been a source of relief for food insecure families during the pandemic.
“These are people who really care about these kids,” said Dr. Teadran White, CEO of IVCC. “We’re so excited to have them join our mission in helping those without in our community.”
While they were traveling, the unit would park at the center’s parking lot one day a week at 2019 N Masters Dr. Dallas, TX, 75217.
“We see on average 10 patients a day,” said Gingerich. “When they come in, we give them our full attention.”
The LifeSavers Foundation has plans to partner with White to open a permanent second location inside IVCC to be completed later this year. Those plans were rushed when the mobile clinic lost mobility. White has welcomed the makeshift clinic with open arms ahead of schedule.
The temporary clinic offers a basic sick check when their visitors aren’t feeling well, suffering from sore throats, nausea, fever, earache, and headache. Strep infections, flu, virus symptoms are some of the illnesses diagnosed and treated on site.
Medication prescriptions, obesity screenings, sports qualifying physical examinations, and X-rays are some of the services offered all for free at The Doctor Spot. Immunizations offered include Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis, Hepatitis A and B, Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR), and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), just to name a few.
Although they’re keeping busy, Gingerich and Pineda worry they’re inability to be mobile is putting a strain on the kids in locations they previously normally served.
“With more than 122,000 uninsured children in Dallas County, it's critical to get our mobile clinic back up and running as soon as possible,” said Pineda.
“Until The Doctor Spot is back up and running, thousands of uninsured children face the very real possibility of having to miss school, end up in the ER, or battle an illness that could have been avoided with accessible or preventive medical care,” said Gingerich.
To get The Doctor Spot back in service will cost approximately $54,000. Although the The LifeSavers Foundation said they have insurance, they fear the settlement could take months. They promise if the insurance claim is settled, any excess funds received will be used to assist in the commission of a second mobile clinic and ongoing operations.
“All of which will enable us to provide free services to thousands more children each year,” said Gingerich.
The Doctor Spot Mobile Clinic will be seeing all patients inside the IVCC Monday/Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday/Thursday 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more information, visit their website.
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