Compassion Parochial Clinic now open

Linda Stoltzfus, Compassion Parochial Clinic office manager, noted that by not taking insurance, costs incurred for many services are reduced.

MIFFLINBURG — The inspiration to establish the Compassion Parochial Clinic came out of a practical need for timely medical services.

Compassion Parochial Clinic Family Practice is now open 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays at 150 E. Chestnut St., Mifflinburg. Visit www.compassionclinic.org or call 570-597-2010. It accepts cash, check or credit cards.

The story of the clinic began over six years ago when Matthew Byler, now the board chair of the nonprofit, was in the Lancaster area. His son needed stitches after taking a fall and sustaining a cut.

“(Byler) was told there was a self-pay clinic in New Holland,” said Linda Stoltzfus, Compassion Parochial Clinic office manager. “They took him there and (Byler) was really impressed. They didn’t have a lengthy wait. It was a reasonable cost. They paid by cash, right up front.”

By having clients pay their own way, rather than relying on insurance, costs incurred and the fees charged can be reduced. Eliminating the “middle man,” Stoltzfus said, made a big difference.

Compassion Parochial Clinic offers medical services one would find in other settings, with an emphasis on reducing costs. They include general services, CDL physicals, work or school physicals, health and wellness, mole removal and many other services. Stoltzfus noted that if special work is needed, such as an MRI, they will recommend the least costly site even if it means a drive away from the immediate area.

Finding a general practitioner, Stoltzfus said, was a challenge. But she added that Dr. David Tanner of Newport has been a good find.

“(Tanner) has a full-time practice down there,” Stoltzfus said. “In January we found out he was willing to come and we were able to be open basically for two half-days.”

Nurse Laurie Derr, one of the clinic’s two staff members, credited Tanner for his thoroughness, kindness and knowledge of the business. They also hosts a children’s cardiologist and a specialist in special genetic disorders from birth.

Since opening in May, Compassion Parochial Clinic has seen 102 registered patients. The clinic is open to all, though it is tailored to what has been called Plain People, including various Mennonite groups and others.

“Most of the Plain People, horse-and-buggy people, don’t carry health insurance. They rely on their church support to pay their medical bills,” Stoltzfus said. “When you are uninsured you tend not to seek medical care until it is a crisis.”

Plain People, or indeed anyone without insurance, sometimes ends up with less than ideal medical care.

“Part of the purpose of the clinic is to encourage people to seek care before a minor problem becomes a major one,” Stoltzfus said. “There is a lot of mistrust with the health system and this way we may have a little bridge.”

Their doctor, she added, is not under the time crunch faced by some physicians. Care may thus be offered in a more relaxed setting.

Compassion Parochial Clinic is linked with Geisinger Health Systems for lab work, which has offered them a reasonable self-payer rate. Other institutions including Evangelical Community Hospital and UPMC Williamsport, have donated furniture and other fixtures of a medical office.

Church groups are represented on the board of the Compassion Parochial Clinic. Some have donated money to establish the clinic while others have donated their time. As a nonprofit, money goes back into the business. Funds are limited for now, said Stoltzfus, but it is hoped that a nurse practitioner will start soon.

Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

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