The Bethany Center
Dr. JD Dahlberg, a member of North Side Baptist Church, returned to Greenwood from Texas a few years ago to start a faith-based medical clinic. Through partnerships with both the Lakelands Baptist Association and Carolina Health Centers, Dr. Dahlberg was able to open the Bethany Center August 7, 2012. The following provides a little more insight into the Bethany Center Ministry:
What is the Bethany Center?
The Bethany Center is a faith based clinic that works with local ministries in Greenwood, SC.
Where is the Bethany Center located?
We share a building with Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana (The Lakelands Baptist Association Hispanic church) located at 924 Bypass 25 NE. This is on the bypass between the back entrance to the Civic center and the Motorcycle Depot.
How often is the Bethany Center open?
Currently we are open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The rest of the time the patients can be seen at our Uptown Family Practice office.
Who does the Bethany Center serve?
We definitely have a mindset that we want to reach a Hispanic population in order to assist the Hispanic church plant in their community. Approximately half of our patients are Hispanic, but we are also accepting all patients.
Ministries in the area refer patients to us. Anyone from the Foundation House, Common Solutions, A Place for Us, and La Puerta can see me right away. We are trying to expand our work with Meg’s house, Faith Home, and other homeless shelters.
How does the clinic help make healthcare more affordable for those who need financial assistance with healthcare costs?
We see patients with Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance. Our cash pay patients have a sliding fee based on their income that helps make the clinic affordable for those who need it. This can allow patients to see me and get their labs and x-rays for as little as $25. We end up with patients who really value the care they are receiving. While I think there is a need for free clinics in our area, I also believe there is a need for a medical home for patients that can afford the low cost. In addition to providing reduced rates for medical care, patients can get their medicines at a greatly reduced cost thru our Carolina Community Pharmacy.
What services do you offer patients?
We do everything except deliver babies, but give me time, I’m working on that. We take care of anyone from newborns to the elderly. We draw our labs in the clinic and have vaccines on-site. I also take care of HIV positive patients.
It took us about a month to get everything that we needed in place to treat patients at the clinic. It was a challenge because we share the clinic area with the Hispanic church. We had a limited amount of storage space for the supplies we needed to keep at the clinic. However, we have made it work and we are able to be efficient.
How did the Bethany Center get started?
I was living in Texas and the North Side pastoral staff began talking to me about starting a Hispanic clinic in conjunction with a Hispanic church plant. I was very interested and from there the idea expanded into working with the Lakelands Baptist Association. The Association had started a Hispanic church plant, and they had a building with space to put a clinic in the back. Since I knew I had a location I could use, I began to look into how I could receive funding for the clinic.
I started talking to Dr. Locke Simons at Carolina Health Centers, who is a member of North Side, and I asked him whether they would consider putting a new clinic in the LBA building. Carolina Health Centers is a non-profit organization that has grant money to help see patients without insurance or Medicaid, so partnering with them was a good way to get the clinic started. With partnerships with the Lakelands Baptist Association and Carolina Health Centers seeming like a real possibility, my wife and I decided to move forward with the clinic plans.
I wanted this clinic to be my full-time job/ministry, so I left my job in Texas, took a full-time ER position in Abbeville, and moved back to Greenwood. There were some difficult days of trying to get the clinic open. We had to wait for various things, such as, getting approval for CHC to expand into a new sight and for building inspections, but we finally opened the doors of the Bethany Center in August of 2012.
What are your long-term goals for the Bethany Center?
I’m not a person who likes to do things on a small scale, so I would like to see the clinic continue to expand. I hope to start a ministry tract for the residents at the Montgomery Center so they can work at Bethany. I have had doctors call me and ask when we will be ready to add a second doctor. I know there will be other like minded doctors who want to work in a ministry minded clinic. There could be other sites in the area and possibly a work in Guatemala?!?
How can the congregation at North Side best support this ministry?
Since this is a regular clinic, it makes it difficult to take volunteers due to the patient confidentiality rules. However, there are still ways to serve this ministry. We still need items for the clinic that would help it be more evangelical. We need Bibles in both English and Spanish. I also would like to have some Dave Ramsey books, such as the Total Money Makeover to give to patients who need it. We could use an interior decorator for the clinic area. It has been a challenge to work in shared space, and we could use some room partitions to help divide the space. There will also be some building projects in the future, such as a new back door and a covered area where patients could be dropped off in bad weather.
Also, the clinic was designed to assist the local Hispanic church, so I think North Side could assist Pastor Felix and his congregation at Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana. They have started meeting on Sunday afternoons from 2-4 pm, and they need volunteers to help lead the kids during this time period. Pastor Felix has also been working with a group of local pastors in Guatemala and we are planning a medical mission trip to this area.