By: C.H.S. Staff
Church Health Services – Beaver Dam, WI
Milestones ought to be celebrated, especially when scores of people’s lives have been changed by the good accomplished by an organization and the passionate people behind the scenes. As Church Health Services (CHS) approaches their twentieth anniversary in 2013, the community recognizes their accomplishments, service and dedication to change the landscape of healthcare and the disparity associated it.
Back in 1993, Dr. Mike Augustson with his pastor Rev. Steve Polster at Trinity Methodist Church in Beaver Dam sought to create a free clinic. Moreover, they felt free to offer care above and beyond what was given in a typical clinic setting. They developed care for patients treating body, mind and spirit. They incorporated whole person care with the assistance of volunteer clergy, physicians and nurses. CHS also expanded into area congregations with parish nursing programs and provided a positive health message for all through their “I CAN” poster campaign.
Initially, CHS programs and services were mostly welcomed by those in need, but as time has proven, community, congregational and regional support has propelled CHS into one of the foremost essential nonprofits of our time. CHS now hosts clinics for those in need in Beaver Dam and Mayville, and in August, the Board of Directors voted to move forward with the most courageous of projects yet: Purchasing a building to house additional medical clinics, a dental clinic, a faith and health resource center for the community and a central location to house congregational ministries.
What compels an organization like CHS to expand when the United States is on the verge of healthcare reform? Those at the top of CHS will tell you every time that their decisions are based on faith, hope and courage. Faith that the resources and finances needed to sustain CHS will continue. Hope that in time healthcare will evolve and change for the benefit of all, but CHS will be there to meet the needs that remain. Finally, courage is needed to step forth to do the right thing. If CHS did not step forward to meet the challenge, who would? Possibly no one and that is not an option.
A glance at the CHS timeline is nothing short of miraculous. It is like watching an infant mature into a young child, move through puberty and finally approach adulthood. Sustaining a nonprofit like CHS for nearly two decades had to have momentum from the medical community to supply physicians and trained nurses, as well as willing clergy from all denominations, volunteers and mental health professionals. In addition, a facility was needed like Trinity Methodist in Beaver Dam that did not mind infringement on space that could have been utilized by other congregational members and programs. CHS likewise depended on and appreciated support from the United Way, the Beaver Dam Community Hospital, and area corporate and business funding partners whose checks, like money from heaven, appeared in the mailbox. CHS would remain open and active for another month, another year, another decade.
What has not been said about CHS over the years in press releases, newsletters, patient stories, at fundraising events and from person to person? What often remains unstated, or understated, includes the emotional private discussions and prayers around a table at the onset of every clinic. This is where CHS staff informs the volunteer team about patient needs and what obstacles a patient has experienced. To be in this circle of trust is a holy experience, understanding that what science cannot always mend, faith may. There is nothing more powerful than to hear of modern-day miracles of healing that both medical science and faith produced. To understand that faith and health work in concert, especially here in our neighborhoods and in our county (not in some far away land) is exciting, impressive and inspiring.