Health clinic hosts open house to talk about free services

NILES — A free health clinic in Niles that will serve those without health insurance celebrated a grand opening last week and encouraged the local community to get involved.

HERBIE Health Clinic hosted an open house Friday night at the clinic, located inside Wesley United Methodist Church, 302 Cedar St. Those who attended were invited to tour the facility, enjoy snacks and listen to a presentation on how the clinic got its start. 

HERBIE Health Clinic is open on the second Saturday of the month and is run entirely by volunteers. Patients can receive routine medical care, medications and some labs run on site. A pharmacy, as well as emotional health and counselors are on site.

Dr. Sherry O’Donnell, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, addressed the crowd of about 50 people in attendance. She shared how the ministry-influenced clinic first began serving people who needed care in Benton Harbor. In an earlier interview, O’Donnell said she decided to move the clinic from Benton Harbor to Niles because she felt it was an underserved area. She emphasized the importance for volunteers to spread the message about the services that the clinic can offer. Before moving to Niles, she said the clinic was serving 100 to 120 patients.

“Right now, in Niles, I think we are still the best kept secret,” O’Donnell said.

Moving an entire medical clinic to a new city was not the easiest thing to do, O’Donnell lamented. She said volunteers dealt with some hiccups in the moving process, including a moving van that did not show up when ordered and some complications with electrical inspection.

“We moved in June. We are here,” O’Donnell said. “It is time to let the community know.”

While spreading the message about the services the clinic can offer is important, O’Donnell also encouraged people to get involved in volunteering. She said the operation cannot succeed without volunteers and she commended those who helped with the clinic’s transformation in Niles. Thanks to their efforts, a vacant room in the church was transformed into the doctor’s office, complete with five exam rooms and a pharmacy.

The hard work paid off, she said.

“You will see, it is an absolutely gorgeous facility,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell operates her own practice, Rappha Medical Center in St. Joseph. She said she was inspired to open the clinic with practice administrator Sandi Lemley in honor of missionary Herb Atkinson. Lemley has since moved away from the area and O’Donnell has continued to operate the nonprofit.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to get in touch with the clinic by visiting their Facebook page or by contacting O’Donnell at (269) 408-1777. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old. They are needed to assist as physicians, nurses, physical therapists, greeters, clinic guides and to help patients with registration.

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