Volunteer doctors solving health care crisis, one patient at a time

Pictured, from left, are Dr. William Turner, Dr. J. Stuart Crutchfield, and Dr. Samuel Houston, Bethesda's 2009 honorees with Dr. John English, Director of the clinic.
Pictured, from left, are Dr. William Turner, Dr. J. Stuart Crutchfield, and Dr. Samuel Houston, Bethesda's 2009 honorees with Dr. John English, Director of the clinic.

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS - With many East Texas families feeling the crunch of rising health care costs and the "health care crisis" making national headlines, a group of local volunteer doctors are taking the situation under control, one patient at a time.

Civic leaders and the medical community gathered Friday night to honor this year's inductees into the Dr. Luke Society. Dr. J. Stuart Crutchfield, Dr. Samuel D. Houston, and Dr. William F. Turner, Jr. were chosen because of their generous and devoted service to the community as volunteers at the Bethesda Health Clinic, serving Smith County and located in downtown Tyler.

"The doctors chosen for the Dr. Luke Society, both current and previous, have given their lives to taking care of others. Their selfless service is the role model for our other volunteers. We are blessed to have such quality physicians," said John English, director of Bethesda and a physician himself.

Bethesda is able to offer the working uninsured of Smith County quality health care at only a small expense to families or businesses because of volunteers, like the over 180 doctors that volunteer their time and expertise each month. At the heart of the Clinic, along with volunteer doctors is also tremendous individual volunteer support, including over 140 volunteer nurses and 250 other volunteers who contribute to virtually all aspects of the clinic's ongoing needs.

The clinic is financially sponsored by individual donors and more than a dozen major business partners who contribute selflessly to the needs of patients with monetary gifts, products, professional medical services, medical supplies and in-kind donations.

The Dr. Luke Society takes its name from "The beloved physician" mentioned in Colossians 4:14. Past honorees include: Dr. Maxey Abernathy, Dr. Charles D. Albright, Dr. Lawrence L. Anderson, Dr. Duane N. Andrews, Dr. Ben F. Bridges, Dr. Ben R. Fisch, Dr. Robert R. Gatti, Dr. Steven P. Keuer, Dr. Gary T. Kimmel, Dr. Charles McCarthy, Dr. Robert E. Rossman, Dr. Patrick R. Thomas, Dr. James M. Vaughn, Dr. Sasha (Dr. V) Vukelija, Dr. Kerfoot P. Walker, Jr. and Dr. Marrietta Crowder Walker

By delivering high quality health care to the working uninsured, Bethesda Health Clinic is able to provide care to a significant, yet neglected segment of our population in a professional and dignified environment, while at the same time relieving the burden on and overcrowding in local emergency rooms.

None of it would be possible without financial support from the community too, according to English.

"This year's event sponsors are Harold and Rosemary Beaird, Mac Moseley, and John and Judy Soules. The dinner was sponsored by Wynelle Epperson, Paul and Cathy Powell, Trinity Mother Frances Foundation, Tyler Cancer Center, and Bethesda Health Clinic Foundation," according to English.

"We feel blessed to have a clinic that allows doctors an opportunity to do what they do best, serve their patients, one patient at a time," said English.