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Prescription
for Poverty

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We’ve all heard stories about sick people turned away from a doctor’s office, or even a hospital, because they just don’t have insurance. Lots of Americans choose between medical care and food or other necessities. A doctor in Memphis is on a mission to rewrite such horror stories with happier endings.  He is trying to heal bodies and souls in one of the poorest places in the U.S.  

 
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Prescription for Poverty – Story:

Melanie McDonald has suffered with heart problems most of her young life.  Dr. Scott Morris hopes he can help mend Melanie’s heart  … and her mother’s.

Elizabeth McDonald, Melanie’s mother: “See, they want to run an EKG on her to check her heart out, and the first thing out of my mouth is ‘OK, how much is this going to cost me because right now my budget is to the limit?’ And he said, ‘Nothing.’”

Dr. Scott Morris/ Founder, Church Health Clinic: “I think we have an obligation to take care of those who are the least among us.”

After graduating from Emory Medical School and Yale University, Dr. Morris set out to find the city with the most of the least.

Dr. Scott Morris: “Memphis is historically the poorest major city in America.  That’s not something to be proud of, but it is something that drew me to Memphis.”

He was also drawn to ministry, becoming the associate pastor at St. John’s United Methodist Church.  In 1987, his congregation, and others in the faith community, started the “Church Health Clinic.”

Dr. Scott Morris: “I really think of myself as a pastor who acquired a particular skill.”

Dr. Scott Morris, talking to patient:  “Are you working?”

Patient: “No, right now I’m not working.”

Dr. Scott Morris: “I fully believe that poverty unto itself is a spiritual disease.  And spiritual diseases require spiritual solutions.”

Dr. Morris has created a network of more than 400 medical professionals who volunteer at the clinic.

Dr. Scott Morris: “The people we look out for are those who work to make our lives comfortable.  They shine your shoes; they cook your food. One day, they’ll dig your grave.”

Elizabeth McDonald, talking to Dr. Morris: “You all do a lot of good and I’m grateful.”

Prescription for Poverty – Tag:

Doctors at the Church Health Clinic see a couple of hundred patients every day.  There is a nominal fee, but only if the patient can afford it. And Dr. Morris says after practically every Sunday service, someone will approach him, wanting an on-the-spot diagnosis.  He doesn’t mind.  He just sees it as part of a job that’s 24/7.