Free Health Care in East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/20/04 - Lindale

Free Health Care in East Texas

The phone calls began three years ago and they haven't stopped since. People from here all the way to Colorado who can't afford health care are talking to a group of missionaries working in East Texas willing to give them care for free.

"The first year we did this, I think we had 30 people the first day we had to pull all of their teeth," Debbie Laschelles, co-chair of the event, said.

"One in four children are not able to afford medical care privately because either they haven't got health insurance or they can't afford the kind of care they need," Dr. Elizabeth Primus, a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) volunteer from Trinidad, said.

She and more than 1,000 other volunteer medical, dental, and eye care professionals will screen and treat low-income individuals this weekend. YWAM expects thousands of people to start lining up and camping out there Thursday night. Volunteers will begin providing food early Friday morning, as well as entertainment. Some missionaries will entertain the kids while they wait. All of them say they'll share the reason behind their efforts.

"We get the opportunity to show the love of Jesus as well to the patients and show that we care," Primus said.

Although volunteers expect to help close to 2,000, they know they'll have to turn away thousands more.

"We wish we could do this more often," Laschelles said. "But it's quite an ordeal to get this many dentists and professionals from around the state to come and volunteer their time and give equipment, and the whole funding thing and everything."

Doctors and dentists say they want to provide quality, not just quantity.

The "Mission of Mercy" event runs this Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the YWAM campus, just west of Lindale. Services are free and first-come first-serve. YWAM is urging those with the most pressing medical or dental needs to line up as early as Thursday night. You can find more information on our homepage by clicking on the "Know More on 7" icon.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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