Thursday, July 25, 2013

Prayer Walking the Neighborhood

Dear Friends,

As you may or may not know, my husband and I have been blessed with three perfect, adorable children: twin boys (20 mo) and a little girl (4.5 mo). Whenever I get a quiet moment to watch them (unusual in my house!) I feel GRATITUDE. They are healthy, happy, live in a secure household, have never known real fear, have never known serious want. I can give them what they need to grow: good food, discipline and restrictions, enough sleep, love and affection.

When I see my children, I am overwhelmed with two emotions: joy, and mourning.


Mourning because I read the papers and watch the news and know that there are kids all over the world who DON'T have the privileged lifestyle that my children enjoy. They suffer from malnutrition, abuse, neglect, sexual molestation. They grow up with mothers who cannot feed them, fathers in prison, or strangers-friends-relatives-parents-siblings who inflict unimaginable atrocities against them, innocent children and babies.

We see this almost everyday. Broken families and broken lives. Cycles that result in more brokenness.

Friends, sometimes I get dismayed at the evil that exists around us - and inside us. I want to fix it, or punish the evil-doers, or just do something. I let my anger and (yes) even hatred overtake me. How can we fight the evil that exists all around us?

As one prayer supporter reminded me, one way is through prayer.

We can pray.

This morning a few of us at the clinic went on a prayer walk around our neighborhood, Wellington Heights. We prayed for lives to be changed, cycles to be broken, and Christ to reign. I prayed for the children.

As Christians, God has challenged us to love our neighbors. At His Hands, we want to take up that challenge and love our neighborhood. And I have to believe that love - and prayer - can start a movement right here in Wellington Heights that will move across the world. After all, God has already won the battle, right?

Please pray with us:

- For the safety of our neighborhood in general
- For the safety of the kids in our neighborhood, city, world
- For the emergence of outreach programs directed towards fathers, helping them understand their pivotal role in their families
- For the mothers to be steadfast, supportive, patient
- For God to transform lives
- For the His Hands community to pursue prayer
- and For me specifically, to always chose love, no matter what

In Christ,

Executive Director

Sharon Patten
Executive Director
His Hands Free Medical Clinic
400 12th Street SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa  52404
(319) 862-2636

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dear friends,

I was in Seattle most of last week for my sister's wedding. To be honest, I needed the vacation!

When I left Cedar Rapids, I was so frustrated with our dental component - not the staff or volunteers, but specifically the extremely high no-show rate. In one week, every single dental clinic had at least one, if not two, patients simply not show up for their appointments. They all get reminder postcards, are required to confirm, and even receive reminder phone calls the day before - and then sometimes simply don't come. It's so frustrating to have a volunteer dental crew ready to help and sitting around doing nothing. There are so many people just waiting to be called.

Anyway, last week, I was ready to pack it in!

But when I got back to the office today, Michelle pulled me aside to show me before and after pictures of a few of our patients. "Look at these!" she said. "These patients can smile now." And as I looked at their new smiles, I realized that for THESE people we have made a big difference. Yes, every dental patient should show up for their scheduled appointment, but in the end lives are still being changed. And that's what counts.

Here is a before/after picture that just blows my socks off. This patient has a new upper partial denture; he'll get a lower denture in a few weeks. Can't you just imagine how much his life will be changed, simply by having a set of good-looking teeth?

And after!
In our line of work, it's important to focus on every success. That's something that can be easy to forget about in the day-to-day grind. But this patient - and many more like him - is a great success! Praise God for all the talented volunteers who make this possible, and the donors who fund it.

Thanks, and be well.

Sharon Patten
Executive Director

Friday, October 19, 2012

An afternoon at the dental clinic...

Dear friends,

As I write this, we are in the middle of a dental clinic. The patient is getting a full extraction, which literally means that the dentist is removing every single one of her teeth. She's not that old, friends - this breaks my heart.

And yet I am overwhelmed. First, I am amazed at the kindness of the volunteering dentist. This patient was understandably nervous, and he was so compassionate as he talked her through the procedure and gently explained everything he was doing. SHE has his attention, not just the teeth he is extracting.

And second, this patient still has the option of a full set of dentures. Anyone with dentures can tell you that they aren't ideal, but they are vastly better than a mouth filled with painful, useless teeth. One day, this patient WILL smile again. (And she'll never have to worry about cavities again!)

Our dental clinic has been open since February, and this has been and continues to be a learning year. For me, the biggest challenge is how to cope with the many names of people who need help now but won't get it for months. What do we tell them? All we can do is be compassionate, kind, and do our best to get to their name as soon as we can.

And we remember that every patient we help is someone who is getting the assistance they need. That is God's miracle for us - one person at a time.



PS- In the same clinic, another patient canceled, leaving the chair empty. It is a big challenge trying to fill a chair at the last minute! But praise God, we found were able to find a patient right away. She has been on the waiting list since May and was so excited to get our call! Praise God!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Healthy Living Program: Room taking shape!

Our renovation is almost complete! See the before and after pictures, above.

The kitchen and room will be used as part of the Healthy Living Program, starting soon. This program is designed to give our patients to education and tools they need to take charge of their health. We will have cooking classes geared specifically towards creating tasty, low-cost meals that are healthy.

All instruction will be by volunteers. Contact the clinic today if you (or a friend) are interested in teaching a Healthy Living Class! Some classes need experienced and knowledgeable educators, but for many classes we will give you the materials and training you need. Contact me if you're interested!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Health Care Reform: Upheld

Dear friends, This morning, in a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Now the question is: What does that mean for us?

We're not sure.

Like every free clinic around the country, the staff and volunteers at HH have been watching the ACA drama since it started in 2010. Obviously, this will affect us in a BIG way. Most of our patients still cannot afford medical insurance; they will simply be roped into an expanded Medicaid program. At that point, under the current Medicaid rules, our volunteer providers will be unable to treat them.

We're not sure what that means for us. Dental is not covered under the current Affordable Care Act, and neither is chiropractic care. We also know that there will be a lot of confused people thinking that they have free insurance somewhere but not sure how to access it. There will be a significant shortage of providers able to absorb the newly created patient volume. It will be messy.

How do we show the love of Christ in this mixed up situation?

Let me be clear, here. There is a lot of dissension surrounding Obama-Care - within clinic staff and volunteers, our partnering churches, even within some of our families. I think that disagreements like this are important, even healthy, in order to progress. But as a clinic, we have no official stance on health care. We simply want the best for our patients. We simply want to be where God wants us to go, speaking about His hope and love to everyone, insured or not. And what's great about His Hands is that we can unite behind that common goal and leave the politics behind.

So, what does the Supreme Court's decision mean for us? For the short term, very little. For all we know, it could be struck down tomorrow! And no matter what government does, there will always be people who fall through the cracks.

What it means is this: We pray, pray, pray for God's guidance - for us and for our government. And we keep moving forward.

His Hands on the news!

On KCRG last night... quick clip about His Hands!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spirituality and Health

I listen to NPR every morning - and this morning, on my way to work, Talk of Iowa focused on spirituality and its affect on health. Apparently, a study done last year "found an 18% lower mortality level for patients who had higher rates of spirituality or religiosity." According to Charity Nebbe (and based on what I remember from the broadcast!), that's pretty close to the same percentage of benefit that you get with changes in your diet and exercise.

As Christians in healthcare, we KNOW that faith makes a big difference. We see it every day.

But it sure is nice to have some scientific support!

You can check out the broadcast here: