By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Each Saturday morning a swirl of activity takes place at the Pennsylvania Avenue Redemption United Methodist Church in northwest Oklahoma City. As cars surround the building, at 1320 N Pennsylvania Avenue, people wait inside to be treated at Oklahoma’s long time standard of free medical care.
On Monday, February 5, the Manos Juntas Free Medical Clinic will celebrate 23 years of service to those in need.
Founded in 1995, the clinic has been treating people for free who have no insurance and are unable to afford an examination by a physician or purchase their medicines.
The clinic first began in the library of Epworth United Methodist Church and moved to its current home inside the Penn Avenue Church in 2015.
The concept of Fundación Manos Juntas (Joined Hands Foundation) was the brainchild of Dr. Boyd Shook and his daughter, the Rev. Dr. Kathy McCallie. Their desire to help the poor and underprivileged motivated them to create the Manos Juntas Medical Clinic.
A practicing physician and native Oklahoman, Shook is the Founder, President and Medical Director of Manos Juntas. Specializing in Internal Medicine, he practiced Hematology and Oncology for 25 years. He has worked as a medical director for the Central Oklahoma Medical Group and as Chief of Ambulatory Care at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Each week approximately 150 patients are treated at the clinic by a 60 member, all-volunteer staff comprised of triage, pharmacy and laboratory staff, doctors and nurse practitioners, according to Kris Barnes, Manos Juntas Executive Director.
“The Manos Juntas Clinic has treated more than 25,000 people in Oklahoma since opening its doors in 1995,” Barnes said. Sarah Tran has volunteered at the clinic since 2011 and is currently a student in the Doctor of Osteopathy program at OSU Center for Health Sciences. “Sarah has been on our Board of Directors since 2015,” Barnes said.
“It’s awesome…I love it here,” said volunteer Kristen Kluber, a premed student at the University of Oklahoma. A Texas native, Kluber says she’s applying to medical schools in both Oklahoma and Texas.
With a proud smile Shook said of Kluber, “She’s one of our smartest kids and she’s also a translator.”
A student in the PA (Physician Assistant) program at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, volunteer Allison Nguyen can be seen working at the clinic most Saturdays.
“Manos Juntas has provided me with a tangible way to make an impact on my community. Not only has it helped me learn practical and interpersonal skills that I will be able to apply to my professional career, but it has also helped build relationships with members of the community and friendships with fellow volunteers,’ Nguyen said.
“Dr. Shook has been an incredible resource and teacher and his dedication to the clinic and his patients is inspiring,” she added. “I highly recommend volunteering at this clinic to anyone trying to gain medical experience.”
Funded by grants and donations, the clinic offers free medical care to those in need regardless of insurance, income, origin, age, sex, race, or religion.
“Our clinic in the Penn Avenue Redemption Methodist Church is also a prison ministry,” said Shook. “We have clinic there every Saturday and we see patients from the prison system who are usually on probation.”
Led by Pastor Brad Rogers, the Penn Avenue Church is the designated prison ministry venue for the local Methodist congregation.
“Board members Bud and Marcia Manning have been volunteering in the clinic every Saturday since we moved to the new location,” said Barnes. “They have both been involved in prison ministry for over 20 years.
“They bus prisoners in from several different facilities every Thursday and Sunday,” Barnes added. “And they feed everyone lunch on Sunday. It has been a blessing to be able to partner with them in helping our community.”
The clinic accepts new patients on a first come first serve bases on Saturday mornings from 8 – 11:30 a.m. Medical services include examination by physicians, medications, laboratory tests, management of chronic illness, and healthcare referrals if needed at no cost.
“We continue working until everyone who signs in during that time period has been seen by a physician and been given their medications.” Barnes added.
As the website says, “Manos Juntas joins hands and works to break the cycle of poverty through healthcare and education.”
To volunteer, make a donation or to learn more about Manos Juntas call 405-605-3101 or visit manosjuntas.com.