Decades later and our doors are still open for the Saturday clinics that started it all
On Saturday August 4, 1989, we held our first clinic in our newly open health center on Sprague Street. This moment was three years in the making.
Dr. Robert Jackson was Chief Resident at LSU Med during the early 1980s. During his ER rotation he saw individuals come in and out of the emergency room with major complications from treatable conditions. The effects were devastating for the patients and their families, and the costs were rising for the hospitals.
But why? People were falling through the cracks. There were people who couldn’t get assistance through the government to help manage their chronic conditions, and they couldn’t afford private insurance let alone their medications. They were forced to struggle alone with their chronic condition.
Dr. Jackson and the late Sister Margaret McCaffrey at Christian Services refused to accept this reality in Shreveport.
So in November 1985, Dr. Jackson began seeing patients at Christian Services’ Hospitality House located on Sprague Street. His first Saturday he saw 1-2 patients. By the time of our groundbreaking in 1988, he was seeing 25-30 patients every Saturday, and had relationships with Schumpert and others across town to collect donated medications. The need was apparent, and our model was working.
“Jackson cited a case in which a man had been hospitalized six times between 1985-1987. Since being regularly treated at the clinic (at the Hospitality House), the man has only be hospitalized twice in two years.” – Shreveport Times circa 1989
However, Dr. Jackson could only do so much in an open dining room with no privacy for patients.
“The amount of good that has been accomplished by this makeshift clinic at the Hospitality House – “I have to take care of patients in the middle of the dining room and we have to clear out when meals are served.” – justifies building the clinic, Jackson said.” The Shreveport Times circa 1989
In 1988, Christian Services donated the land across the street from the Hospitality House to MLK Health. The Community Foundation and many local supporters rallied around our vision for a free clinic and together Shreveport raised enough money to build this little green building on Sprague Street. It’s still stands today!
More importantly, 29 years later we’re still seeing our Saturday clinic patients. The building has changed, but our core values and model remain the same. We still believe everyone should have access to healthcare. And we’re still committed to making sure no one is forced to struggle alone with their health. Thank you for being part of this journey with us.
We cannot celebrate this anniversary today without thanking Sister Margaret McCaffrey, Mary Blalock, Lucy Morgan, Mavice Wallete, and Dr. Robert H. Jackson who never gave up on the vision of the MLK Health Center & Pharmacy.