The Community Clinic began in 1992 when several doctors and community members wanted to help those less fortunate receive general medical care for their immediate needs. Dr. Robert Adams and his wife Wanda, Dr. Charles Bentlage, Reverend Bill Christman, and Dr. Michael Nagle worked with the First Presbyterian Church in Joplin to use one of the church’s facilities one night per week to provide medical services. Many nurses like Doris Carson and Betty Adams along with pharmacists like Chuck Elgin have volunteered and donated their hearts to the success of the Community Clinic. With the outpouring of community support and volunteers the Clinic rose!
In those early days, each Clinic opened with a prayer to bless the food and to help focus on everyone in need. We honor this with praying every morning at the start of our clinic day. The Clinic opened at 3:00 pm every Thursday and stayed open until the last patient was seen, typically six or seven hours a night. The Clinic was staffed with emergency room physicians and nurses from Freeman Hospital and St. John’s Medical Center (now Mercy Hospital) to provide acute care for people without access to health care.
Reverend Christman wanted to feed the souls of the patients and volunteers and make sure they left with a warm bowl of soup. Often, those donating their time and expertise were rushing from work to assist those in need and a small dinner was one of the ways that we could thank them. To this day, the Clinic often offers food to the patients and those who volunteer.
In 2000, Mr. Joe Berger and family donated the property at 701 S. Joplin Avenue. Members of the community came together and donated the goods and services necessary to renovate and stock the building, establishing it as the medical clinic that it is today. The Clinic continued to operate one evening per week for several years. By 2006, the Clinic provided care by appointment when volunteer physicians were available. Today, the Clinic operates four days a week, providing a wide variety of medical and dental services to its patients. Specialty clinics are available throughout the week as well as some evenings, Fridays, and weekends. With part-time paid staff, the Clinic now has the capacity to serve walk-in sick patients as well as those with an appointment.
Then, in 2017, the Clinic changed its name to The Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri to reflect the fact that the Clinic has long provided services on a more regional basis. The Clinic continues to expand and improve its services while developing new ways to ensure that people with healthcare needs have access to care. In 2015, a partnership with Heart to Heart International established an in-house laboratory to improve the quality of services patients receive. In 2017, the Clinic added limited mental health counseling for patients managing chronic diseases. In 2020, the Community Clinic added women’s health screenings to detect possible breast or cervical cancers early to improve women’s outcomes. In 2023, we expanded this program to include the Show Me Healthy Women program to provide mammograms at no cost to women in need. In 2023, we also added a colorectal cancer screening program to screen patients for risk factors and provide testing and treatment for those in need. The Community Clinic is constantly working to build new relationships with hospitals, physicians, dentists, schools, and other volunteers interested in supporting the Clinic’s mission. We believe that everyone deserves quality, affordable healthcare.