By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – This month, the Manos Juntas Free Clinic, located in Oklahoma City, is celebrating its 26th anniversary of providing healthcare to those in need. To honor this event, Manos Juntas will introduce its new combined office and clinic located near south Western and I-240.
The public is invited to participate in the Manos Juntas 26th Anniversary Virtual Ribbon Cutting Event on Friday, Feb. 26, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. The link can be accessed on the Manos Juntas Free Clinic website and Facebook page.
Led by founder, president and medical director Dr. Boyd Shook, Manos Juntas relocated last summer to a building at 1145 West Interstate 240 Service Road. The clinic is now within 10 miles from 90 percent of its patients, according to Shook.
“With the purchase of this building, my dream of a free clinic home is now possible,’ he said. “High quality medical care is now available for those in need.”
Manos Juntas first began serving patients in the library of Epworth United Methodist Church and later moved inside the Penn Avenue Church in 2015.
Their mission statement reads: Manos Juntas joins hands to provide free medical care and health education to those in need.
Since its beginning, the Manos Juntas Free Clinic has been treating people each Saturday for free who have no insurance and are unable to afford an examination by a physician or purchase their medicines.
“This move has allowed us to expand our clinic services,” said Shook. “The new building has a lot of parking space which creates the opportunity to be more efficient.
A native Oklahoman specializing in Internal Medicine, Shook 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.
“Now we are offering some weekday services as well as the free clinic on Saturday,” Shook said. “Sometimes during the free clinic, we identify patients who need more extensive evaluation than we can perform in the brief amount of time allotted. We can thus ask those people to return during the week when we can offer at no cost a more thorough evaluation.
Manos Juntas took ownership of the new facility last month and is following CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.
“We have added capabilities including ultrasound and electrocardiography,” Shook said. “This represents an increase in the services that we offer to the city and surrounding area. This program will continue to reduce the amount of healthcare expense sustained by the local emergency rooms.
“The hope is that we might be able to obtain more physicians for donation of a few hours of their time to assist in this provision of care,” Shook added
Kris Barnes, former Manos Juntas executive director said, “We meet our mission by providing medical care, medications, diabetes testing supplies, laboratory exams, and specialty referrals.
“The patient flow begins with signing in, they are entered into our medical records system, then the patients are triaged,” Barnes continued. “Every patient has their vital signs checked, basic medical history is taken, and they are examined that day.
“All diabetes patients have their glucose checked at every clinic visit. Then they are seen by our primary care physicians,” Barnes added. “Patients can then go to the pharmacy and have their prescriptions filled.”
“Many of the programs designed to help the poor have left these people out, so we had to create a totally free clinic,” Shook said. “Among our patients, a $4 prescription is still beyond their reach. By giving them free medication, we’ve found that they are very cooperative, they respond extremely well, and they’re very grateful for what we are able to provide for them.”
Bob Benson, a Manor Juntas patient for over 11 years said, “Manos Juntas has been very important to my life because the medicines I take are lifesaving. I wasn’t working and I needed my blood sugar medicines. I don’t have insurance and don’t have the means to get them anywhere else. If it weren’t for Manos Juntas I don’t know where I would turn to get the medicines I need.”
According to Shook, the clinic has served over 25,000 patients in the past 25 years.
“These patients are very diverse in their ethnicity and come from many different countries and cultures,” Shook said. “The one thing they have in common is that they all need healthcare. We will see anyone as a patient, regardless of their background or how they got here.
“We continue to request donations to assist in provision of the services.”
The patients aren’t the only beneficiaries of Manos Juntas clinic.
“Each week a large team of students gets the ‘hands on’ experience they need to be culturally competent doctors, nurses, pharmacists and health care workers,” Shook said.
“One of my goals has always been to tell the volunteers when you get out into practice remember what you’re learning here.” Shook added. “How they interact with the patients at a cultural level is something they take with them to medical school.”
Dr. Richard Meier, who began his Internal Medicine residency in New York last July, stated, “I got my start in healthcare as a volunteer at Manos Juntas more than a decade ago and I wouldn’t be the physician I am today if it weren’t for Dr. Shook’s mentorship and all the ways that Manos Juntas taught me to love evidence-based, patient-centered care.”
To register in advance for the Mantos Justas Virtual Ribbon Cutting event on Feb. 26, click here. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting online.
“It’s just been a wonderful experience,” said Anoushka Mullasseril, a Manos Juntas volunteer of the year. “I’ve been able to really understand the specific needs of patients here in Oklahoma. This is a very special place.”
To register for the Manos Juntas Virtual Ribbon Cutting Event, click here:
This story first appeared online on February 3, 2021