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Mission of Mercy plans new facility

Sherry Bowers, executive director of Mission of Mercy, in her office with plans for a new permanent clinic at the corner of Ayers Street and Baldwin Boulevard. Photo by Carrie Robertson Meyer/Third Coast Photo

When Mission of Mercy celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, its first permanent clinic should be complete. Offering free medical assistance to people who otherwise would not receive it, the nonprofit organization usually sees patients in its RV or in churches that allow the volunteer doctors, nurses and assistants to use their facilities. That won’t go away, but a permanent clinic will allow Mission of Mercy to expand its services.

The new building to be located at the corner of Ayers Street and Baldwin Boulevard became possible with a $2.7 million gift from an anonymous donor. It should open by September 2017, just in time to celebrate 10 years of providing medical services to about 3,000 patients each from Orange Grove to Flour Bluff.

“This is the next step in providing quality patient care and convenience for our patients,” said Sherry Bower, executive directory for Mission of Mercy. She is the only full-time paid employee. Everyone else, from doctors to file clerks, are volunteers.

The new two-story building will include eight triage rooms, eight exam rooms, a classroom for volunteer training and a lounge for lunches and breaks. When the clinic opens, two remote sites in Corpus Christi will close. A partnership with the Regional Transit Authority will provide bus service from those areas to the more centrally located facility.

The RV, however, will not go away. In fact, Bowers said Mission of Mercy is looking to expand its reach on wheels.

“The RV is part of who we are,” she said. “Once we have the permanent clinic, we will look at crossing the bridge into the Portland-Gregory area. We can provide a triangle of service in the Coastal Bend.”

Although the 40-foot RV is the backbone of Mission of Mercy, it can break down. In fact, it has been out of service since February waiting for a part. That doesn’t mean medical services stop.

“We always have a plan B,” Bowers said. “We never cancel our clinics.”

Instead, volunteers carried files and supplies in their cars to remote sites. The buildings that donate space, provide additional rooms for examinations. In April, the organization purchased a trailer that volunteers fitted with shelves. Now someone pulls the needed supplies from site to site.

“It’s been amazing,” Bowers said.

Also amazing is the commitment of the many volunteers who help. As the need for services grow along with the facilities, even more volunteers are necessary. The top priority and need is always physicians and nurses, but a wide variety of other positions are essential as well, including interpreters.

For administration, volunteers are needed to answer the phone and do data entry and patient intake.

“We are very flexible with time,” Bowers said. “Our clinic days are Mondays and Wednesdays, but if anyone wants to come into the office to help, I’m here Monday through Friday. Just pick out a best day and time.”

Volunteers are screened for their interests and skills, trained and put to work.

“They pick out their best day and time, we take their photo, we provide them with Mission of Mercy T-shirts and we go from there,” she said.

Currently, 80 volunteers work for Mission of Mercy.

“We value what they do,” Bowers said. “They give their time, and the two things people don’t want to let go of are time and money. This means a lot to us.”

To become a volunteer, call Mission of Mercy at (361) 883-5500. The office is located at 719 S. Shoreline, Suite 301B, but in the next 18 months, it should be moving to a new space.

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