A free clinic normally hitting larger cities will be setting up shop later this fall in Bozeman with the help of hundreds of medical professionals and volunteers.
AMEN Bozeman, funded by Community Development, Inc., is looking for local volunteers for the two-day free clinic, happening October 19 and 21 at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds.
“Depending on volunteers, we’re hopeful to serve up to 600 patients in those two days,” said local clinic director Deanna Kolodka. “If we get more provider volunteers, we could very well see more than that.”
Kolodka said the clinic is looking for about 100 medical professional volunteers, including general practice, dentists, hygienists, optometrists and assistants, and 300 general volunteers.
Community Development, Inc., builds affordable apartment housing in lower-income areas. Kolodka, also a co-owner of Colter Contracting and Masonry, said typically AMEN clinics are held in places that the company has built housing, but this one is a little different because the company’s founder went to high school in Belgrade.
“I’m the oldest of four boys,” said Fred Cornforth, the founder and CEO of Community Development, Inc. “We definitely came from a hardworking, blue-collar family, and we didn’t always have health insurance or dental insurance. I remember paying out of my own pocket as a high school senior for dental care.”
Cornforth said the Gallatin Valley is very special to him, and that he’s excited for the chance to bring an AMEN clinic to Bozeman and serve its people.
“The fact that we’ve been successful and fortunate, it’s just out of gratitude for the time that we lived there in the valley that I want to give back this way,” Cornforth said. “Bozeman would not typically sit where we would go with one of these.”
AMEN clinics are normally in larger cities; the smallest city a clinic has been in other than Bozeman is Boise, Idaho. Boise’s population is more than 223,000; Bozeman’s population is a little over 45,000. Other places that have hosted clinics are Detroit, Baton Rouge, and Seattle.
In addition to medical services, the AMEN Bozeman clinic will provide lifestyle services, like setting patients up with information on parenting classes, counseling and help to stop smoking. The lifestyle services also include religious services, but Cornforth stressed that he didn’t want patients to feel pressured into partaking in praying if they didn’t want to.
“I think out of gratitude for what you’ve just done for them, people would be more susceptible to maybe doing something they wouldn’t normally want,” Cornforth said. He said he didn’t want people praying with chaplains or pastors at the clinic out of a sense of obligation.
“We are there first and foremost to help relieve people of any pain they’re experiencing,” he said.
For more information on volunteering, visit the AMEN Bozeman free clinic website.
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