Today's episode is about a CCV-supported organization that is led by a group of volunteer healthcare professionals. They provide crazy high-quality medical and dental healthcare services to the uninsured, underserved community all at the same time they share the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ with interested patients and colleagues. They train and equip healthcare professionals to respectfully share the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ in their daily practice. This is a ministry that CCV is proud to call a true partner in Christ.
For those listeners who are in the healthcare profession this podcast is especially targeted to you so please stay listening for I have an important message later that you won’t want to miss.
With us today is Gary Plooster and Dr. Paul Lorentsen
Now Gary has over 30 years of experience in the private financial sector and is the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Chrisitan clinic. He comes with a ton of successful life experience which we don’t have time for but its safe to say it includes COO and CPO with more than 1 fortune 100 company.
Dr. Paul Lorentsen is actually one of the co-founders of The Neighborhood Christian Clinic. Paul has served on the Board of Directors since 1995. And is the clinics Medical Director and has been since 1999
Just so you know inpatient visits has increased 275% over the last seven years.
Linked in: Gary Plooster: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-plooster-2568b16/
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Larrie: [00:00:35] Well, I have been so looking forward to this podcast and today we are going to be talking with two amazing leaders who are doing Amazing Kingdom Work right here in our own valley. Now, both of these guys I have grown to love and admire the amazing work that they and their team made up of mostly volunteers are doing. And for those listeners who are in the health care profession, please listen to this podcast today because it's especially targeted to you. For I have an important message later that I don't want you to miss and you won't want to miss. Now with us today is Dr. Paul Lawrenson and Gary Plooster. And now both of these guys are amazing leaders. And Dr. Paul Lawrenson is actually one of the co-founders of the Neighborhood Christian Clinic. Now, Paul has served on the board of directors since 1995 and and is the clinic's medical director since 1999. And just so you know, the patient visits has increased over 275% just in the last nine years. Now, Gary Plooster is the director and executive director. Now, he's he has over 30 years of experience in the private sector, mainly in the financial area, and is the executive director right now. And he comes with a ton of life experience, which we don't have time to get into today. But it's safe to say that it includes CEO and CPO positions with more than one Fortune 500 company. Guys, welcome to the show.
Paul: [00:02:04] It's great to be here, Larrie.
Gary: [00:02:05] Thank you. Thank you for having us. It's an honor.
Larrie: [00:02:08] Well, we're looking forward to learning more about you and Neighbor in Christian neighborhood clinic.
Paul: [00:02:13] Yes. Hi. So I'm married to my wife, Kelly, who is also a physician. She's a pediatrician. And we arrived here in Phoenix from Chicago, where we met during medical school. And we have three adult children.
Gary: [00:02:26] Gary Well, good morning. I am married to a woman by the name of Sherry. She's my better half. We have four grown sons and we moved to Phoenix in 2003.
Larrie: [00:02:40] Wow. Now, for our listeners, I do need to share with you that I've been affiliated and CCV’s been around for longer than I've been here in this position with neighborhood clinic. And we have been down there many times. And it is probably the most, let's just say our volunteers, our attendees and members volunteer at Neighborhood Christian Clinic and every one of them there is not a month goes by that I don't talk with one of them that comes up to me and says, Hey, do you realize just what the impact that Christian neighborhood clinic is making? And I said, I know, but at any rate, it's safe to say that our volunteers love to serve at Christian Neighborhood Clinic. And with that. Paul, could you tell us a little bit about the clinic and what it does?
Paul: [00:03:28] Yes. So we opened in 1999 and our intent and remains our mission is to care for people without any form of medical insurance. So these are not folks that have either government funded insurance or private insurance. There are people that fall through the cracks. They have jobs where they're working as landscapers, housekeepers, day laborers in construction sites. And we our intent is that we can care for them, not only for minor needs, but also we we have partnered with subspecialists and to some extent hospitals as well to try to provide more comprehensive care for these patients.
Larrie: [00:04:09] Now, you guys have a pretty impressive list of people who support you. I mean, they range from St Luke's to Virginia Piper, Thunderbird Charities. I mean, the list goes on and on. And so CCV happens to be just one of those that is honored to support you. Now, we have a considerable amount of volunteers that serve there, right?
Paul: [00:04:32] Oh, exactly. And that's that's been the case for for many, many years. And our volunteer pool is really one of our key strengths. And as as our executive director, Gary says, our two major needs at the clinic, are volunteers and funding. And it's wonderful to have the support of both of those things from CCV.
Larrie: [00:04:52] Can you describe what a day looks like at the clinic? I mean, you open up on a certain time and then what happens?
Paul: [00:04:59] Yeah, I'd say one of the unique things about our day at the clinic is that each half day, whether it's a morning shift or an afternoon shift, and on the days that we have evening shifts, we begin those shifts with a group prayer that invites all staff and volunteers to come together. We have a brief devotional we share. We have an update on the activities of the morning, and then we have prayer together. And that is really just a wonderful way to get our day going.
Larrie: [00:05:32] Well, the fact that you have Christian in the name of your organization says a lot to our community. And I've been there firsthand, and I've watched your doctors, nurses and volunteers care for the people that come through your your door. What's the demographics of the people that actually come for help?
Paul: [00:05:51] Yeah, typically, our really our key niche is really a first generation Mexican immigrant. We certainly don't in any way advertise for that or appeal for that. That's just who has shown up in our area. That's probably represents the demographic that has the greatest need for medical care and really doesn't have another option. So that's really that's really who we're seeing for the most part. We they are typically people that have jobs. Once again, they are very interested in paying their bills. They're extremely hardworking. They're very family oriented. Many of them do have a concern for their spiritual life, to one, to some extent, whether they are currently attending a church or just involved in prayer. Spirituality is important to them. So that does lead to many great conversations and exam rooms, prayer together with our patients, sharing of scripture. It's very well received in our clinic by our patient population.
Larrie: [00:07:03] Now, I noticed when I was there on the wall was this rack of cards, and I remember picking up a couple of them. One was on depression, one was on anxiety. And there was, oh, I wouldn't know, a couple of dozen different cards that were there. And and on one side it was English, and the other side I think it was Spanish. And so tell us what that's all about.
Paul: [00:07:25] We during those devotional times that I mentioned earlier, about 17, 18 years ago, decided that we wanted to have scripture available to our patients regarding the issues that they were facing. So we really spent a couple of years on an ongoing basis meeting together to decide what were the were the passages that were most helpful to each of us regarding specific topics like guilt, anxiety, fear, many different topics, including even infertility. We have a card on infertility. And so we brainstormed. We came up with this with a nice word document about four or five pages that that just highlighted these things. And then I believe it was Gary that came along and said, you know, let's get these individually printed on cardstock and put them on nice displays where they're available to all the patients and the volunteers and let's get them printed in Spanish. So we have them in each of the exam rooms that wall display and the patients are encouraged to self select cards that might be helpful to them. And that's a great way to enter a conversation when you walk in the room and we don't have People magazine or Sports Illustrated in our exam room. So our maybe, if for nothing else, the patient is looking for something to read. They'll grab a scripture card and they'll be reading that when we walk in. And that's a great way to enter a conversation with the patient.
Larrie: [00:08:56] That's fantastic. Now, let's talk a little bit about the facility itself. Now, years ago when you guys started, you were pretty much a one night a week kind of operation in a small clinic, correct?
Paul: [00:09:08] We were we we have always partnered with neighborhood ministries. And we were sharing one of their buildings on right across from the Coliseum on McDowell. And it did serve our needs to get us started. It also, very clearly to our donors, showed them that we needed finances. We had holes in the roof. We had swamp coolers. We didn't have hot water. We had a pink rug, if I remember right. And it was just the place was represented that we were we were serving the needy with the best we had at the time. But we used those four years to build our volunteer corps and to start to appeal to our to our friends and partners to come together with the funding needed to open up this new facility, which in Gary can give me more, better specifics, but it's 5500 square feet, medical and dental. We now have four dental chairs. And in addition to six medical exam rooms, we have a generous waiting room that we can also use for fundraising activities and dinners and having speakers on site. And then probably one thing that's really unique to our facility is our large conference room right in the center of the building, which most clinics wouldn't typically have. But because we have this mission to train and equip volunteers, we decided to build a conference room that would be inviting, would have snacks and water and coffee and a space where volunteers can come together and talk and catch up and bounce things off each other.
Larrie: [00:10:48] Gary, you know, I've been there, and one thing that I noticed right from the start is I walked down the halls of the facilities of the different rooms and pharmacy rooms and all the different kinds of rooms that you have there. I noticed one thing, and that was the walls were loaded with pictures of volunteers, hundreds of volunteers on the walls, all smiling faces. And that speaks a lot about how much you care for the volunteers that serve there. Could you share with us a little bit, Gary, about the facility itself? Now, you've recently gone through an upgrade. Tell us about tell us about that and about how that upgrade actually happened.
Gary: [00:11:38] Well, there's two questions there. One is our volunteers. And volunteers are definitely a critical aspect to our ministry. Over half of our patient visits are facilitated by volunteer providers, whether that's dental hygiene, assistant nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or M.D.. So we rely heavily upon volunteers. And as Paul had mentioned, we try to disciple and mentor our volunteers on how to include Christ in the patient setting while they're volunteering with this so that they can take that experience and skill back to their professional setting and include Christ in that setting as well. So that's the third bullet point of our mission statement, which is to impact God's kingdom through the health care community, through the provider profession, if you will. And you asked about a new upgrade to our facility. That's an incredible story. And there's a lot of God stories that have occurred at the clinic. But our dental facility started in in the current building that we're in. And when we opened that facility, the equipment that we put in there was probably ten or 12 years old already. And we've been in the current facility since 2003. So the dental equipment was about 30 years old and we ran into a couple who told us that they wanted to support us in some way. And the long story short, they kept saying, we're not afraid of any number that you can ask us to provide. So I came up, I said, I'll get back to you in a month. We priced out the whole remodel of the dental facility, which was over 300,000, I think 340,000 to be exact. And this couple wrote us a check on the spot when they heard that number. And they have completely changed our dental facility. We have the most modern, updated dental facility of any dental office in the valley and it's attracting new volunteers because they like to work with new equipment and the patients are getting premium care and God is honored through this dental facility and through this couple's donation, which was so gracious and kind.
Larrie: [00:14:00] Well, when God shows up, he shows up big, doesn't he?
Gary: [00:14:03] Big time. Yeah. And there's a lot of stories like that at the clinic.
Larrie: [00:14:06] Well, it just goes to show that we only limit God by how much we how much we can dream. Yeah. And so it's just a story. And I know you have story after story. You know, I'd like to take a short break now because I promised our listeners that I had an important message that I was going to share, and I want to do that at this time. And then we'll get back to the neighborhood clinic. For our health care professionals who are listening today, I would urge you to share this podcast with your cohorts and friends and people you work with. CCV is about to embark on one of the most significant missions expansions that we've done since our existence, and it's very, very targeted to the health care professional. Our databases show that we have over 3000 health care professionals that attend our church in all the campuses. For many years now, we have not used the resources that God has given us in those health care professionals. And we have now two full time volunteers on my staff who are health care professional and an attorney who is in the process now of mobilizing 3000 health care professionals. And so we have plans that will blow you away of what we've been working on for the last actually the last year.
Larrie: [00:15:30] And so this fall, we are going to roll out a program that will literally mobilize those 3000 workers. And so I would encourage you, if you are at all interested in serving in God's kingdom. In the medical professional. Stay tuned for what we are going to announce this fall. I can tell you firsthand that I have seen health care professionals, doctors, nurses who have gone on mission trips and have it has transformed their lives. I can give you names that people you can talk with who are burnt out from the COVID experience and care that they have been given, many of them ready to leave the health care profession. And because they are able to go on a life changing trip or serve in a life changing area such as Christian neighborhood clinic. Their lives have changed. And so I know that's happening at the Christian neighborhood clinic. And so I would urge you to stay tuned this year, this fall, for more information about what we're going to do. And, guys, I think what's going to happen is you may get some more volunteers here this fall, so be ready.
Paul: [00:16:39] We would love to see that.
Gary: [00:16:41] Praise God for that.
Larrie: [00:16:42] Well, as we wrap up here today, there's one thing I want to talk about, and that is this whole notion of the whole person. The way that you have incorporated this holistic approach to spiritual and medical healing of people is amazing. And I also know that you have created this this training program for health care professionals that could actually go on your website for free and receive this amazing training on how to become and deliver whole person and spiritual care in the health care screening process. Tell us a little bit about that.
Paul: [00:17:22] Maybe, Gary, I'll just mention a story real quickly. Just what I often tell our students is that if you are only willing to assess for physical causes of the symptoms that our patients are experiencing, when the woman comes in with a headache from domestic violence, if you only are willing to focus on migraine, brain tumor and the such, you're just not going to help this patient. So when we talk about whole patient care, we are talking about in addition to asking the usual physical related medical questions to being willing to ask about patient's family lives, not just are you married, but how is your marriage going? Asking about their jobs and then using that as a bridge to say, Hey, you know, how is your soul? How is your faith? When you go through these difficulties, do you ever do you ever pray about these things? Has that been a support to you? So there's a kind of a natural way to go from physical symptoms all the way to a brief spiritual history that can be non-judgmental and can be supportive to the patient. And if they're ready to talk about it, we are ready to meet with them.
Larrie: [00:18:43] Well, I know this curriculum has been taught worldwide. And it if you are a health care professional who have a has a burden to teach others how to include Christ in your patient screenings, this is designed for you. And I've already taken three of these courses, and I can tell you that I've learned something and I have no medical experience. And so I plan to make sure that this type of training is delivered to all of our health care professionals who plan to go on a mission trip because it's so critical to deliver this whole person training. Well, guys, I thank you for joining us today as we wrap up today. What how can we pray for you?
Gary: [00:19:24] Well, I think that the biggest need that I believe we have at the clinic is more volunteers, because as we encounter patients and as we turn patients away each and every day, we can see more patients immediately by having more volunteers. So I would say pray for that, that God would move and stir in the hearts of health care professionals to come volunteer with us. And then the other thing is, I would pray for the protection of the staff as we minister to those in need in the in the South Phoenix area. Actually, patients are from all over Maricopa County, but yeah, pray for the protection of the staff from diseases and that God protects their heart and, and that He allows them to serve to glorify his name.
Larrie: [00:20:13] Well, we'll certainly keep you in our prayers and we look forward to having you back. I'd love to make this a regular occurring podcast episode. So let's plan on doing this in a couple of more months just to kind of see how God has worked since we've last talked.
Paul: That sounds great.
Larrie: Guys. Thanks for joining us.
Gary: [00:20:30] Thank you so much.
Paul: [00:20:31] I appreciate it.