Federal Help Comes to Wesley Clinic

The clinic at The Wesley House in Meridian, Miss., is getting help this week from the U.S. Public Health Service.

The clinic routinely serves area residents who need medical help but can't afford to pay for it.

Late last week, the wheels were set in motion to bring in additional staff to help during this time when free medical assistance is perhaps even more crucial.

"This is a situation where the bureaucracy worked," said Capt. Lee Shackelford, executive office of the medical station at NAS Meridian.

He said the local need was brought to the attention of his office Thursday and patients were being seen at Wesley House by Saturday.

"Our mission is to take care of hurricane victims and the way we look at it is just because you didn't happen to be on the coast or in Louisiana, if you're somebody who comes to this clinic normally but you can't get care because the doctors that typically volunteer can't because they're busy taking care of their own practices, they're victims just like everybody else," Shackelford said. "So we're accepting all comers. We aren't going to turn anybody away. We will turn folks away if they're sicker than we can take care of here. We're basically setting up a big doctor's office."

Pharmaceutical supplies, but not including narcotics, have been donated by manufacturers and doctors continue seeing patients, but Shackelford said he doesn't know how long the mission will last.

"We're more than happy to be here to do this. It's an honor for us to come help you folks," said Shackelford.

The clinic cannot take patients needing emergency or critical care. Those will be referred to emergency rooms. The Wesley House Clinic will determine its hours on a day-by-day basis. However, it is to be open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Evacuees and others needing help receive the care free of charge. Wesley House is located at 1520 8th Avenue in Meridian.