The Alamodome at sunset. Photo courtesy of the City of San Antonio.
The Alamodome at sunset. Photo courtesy of the City of San Antonio.

San Antonio’s uninsured and under-insured families unable to afford medical, dental and vision care should make their way to the Alamodome April 8-10. The downtown sports venue will be converted into a massive health care clinic offering free services to the city’s neediest citizens for three days.

The clinic will offer more than $10 million worth of healthcare treatment, including primary care, with referrals to specialists and pediatricians when necessary. Patients can receive minor surgical procedures, physical and occupational therapy, women’s health counseling, and mental, dental, and vision services.

Dr. Thomas Schlenker, Director of Health for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Clinic, said he wants to get the word out that patients do not have to provide residency or citizenship.

“It’s open to everybody,” he said.

Schlenker estimates that 20-25% of the city’s 1.4 million people do not have health insurance.

“There is potentially a big need,” he said. “Even people who do have health insurance may not have coverage for dental care or eye care. If they cannot afford that out-of-pocket, this may be an opportunity to get that tooth pulled that they’ve been putting up with for a long time, or getting that new pair of glasses.”

Your Best Pathway to Health, a service of Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries (ASI), summoned more than 1,500 healthcare professionals and volunteers to operate the medical clinic.

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ASI is an organization with members ranging from business owners to individual professionals to supporting ministries that follow the motto: “Sharing Christ in the Marketplace.”

Approximately 1,000 ASI members promote a Christ-centered lifestyle for those they encounter at work and in their everyday life. ASI supports the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which is one of the clinic’s key organizers, and its various outreach programs which includes health, education, evangelism, community services, family concerns, and special projects.

President of Your Best Pathway to Health, Dr. Lela Lewis, said her organization is equipped with supplies to treat more than 6,000 people, but she expects 7,000 or 8,000 people to show up.

Lewis said minor surgical procedures will be done at the Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos and she’s been collaborating with local San Antonio healthcare providers and clinics over the past few months to identify patients in need of surgery. Selected patients will come to the Alamodome on April 7, go through a preliminary screening, and then head for San Marcos on either April 8 or 9 for surgery.

“We’ve pretty much filled up the operating room for those two days,” she said.

The clinic will be one of the Adventist Church’s biggest outreach projects of 2015, and aims to attract San Antonio residents to the church before the General Conference Session, a major church business meeting held in the Alamodome in July.

“The reason we are doing the clinic is because, instead of just coming to town and having a meeting, we wanted to come to town and give back to the citizens in the city,” Lewis said.

Vincent Nathan, assistant director of the San Antonio Environmental Health Division, said the Metropolitan Health Clinic will provide some vaccines – primarily for children – and assist in dental work. He said the clinic is primarily offering preventative services.

“The earlier you get a screening or the earlier you take an X-ray, the better you can treat or prevent a disease. Some of these participants, I’m sure, don’t have primary care physicians,” he said. “Some of these screenings might be the first for some of these patients. There will be ample opportunity for them to be examined for maybe even the first time.”

Services will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 7 a.m. No appointment is necessary, other than surgical procedures, which require pre-surgery visits. Surgical patients are asked to call 888-447-2849 to register for free surgery.

*Featured/top image: The Alamodome at sunset. Photo courtesy of the City of San Antonio.

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....