EL PASO (KDBC) — It started with one patient and one nurse about 40 years ago and it quickly grew to hundreds of people standing in line every Sunday who cannot afford medical care, to receive it at no cost.
But because the clinic shares the building with a Baptist Church, the doctors who volunteer to run the Bautista del Centro Clinic want to keep offering their services, but with the limited space they have they say that may not an option.
"The church needs its space and we are taking up almost all of their class space for Sunday school,” said nurse and clinical director Eleanor Poe. “One doctor had to work in the pastor’s office the other day and he wasn't very happy."
The problem is the clinic has outgrown the space and needs to come up with the money to move out.
"If it wasn't for this clinic, I wouldn't be alive today," said cancer survivor Magdalena Patlan.
But some patients like Patlan who has been going to the clinic for over a decade and said it’s worth the investment.
"I had a cold for a month and there wasn't any kind of medicine that could cure me,” said Patlan. “So I came to this clinic and right away the doctor told me I had melanoma."
After being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Patlan said she was thankful for the clinic and the doctors who volunteered their time to attend her right away.
The clinic is made up of several specialists who donate their free time every Saturday to help those like Magdalena who cannot afford the expenses of medical care.
"We are open from 8 o’clock in the morning to about six or seven at night,” said David Palafox M.D. Associate Clinical Director. “It’s all 100 percent volunteers, we have free laboratory and free pharmacy services and provide free health care to all of those who ask."
The building the clinic is trying to move out in also belongs to the church but because haven’t moved out because of the conditions the building is in.
Poe said the ceiling, walls and floors all have holes and she said the estimated cost could total up to about one million dollars.
"Everyone who comes to this clinic should financially help out,” said Patlan. “It really needs the money to continue offering its services."
Poe said any kind of donation would be greatly appreciated and is sending out letters to the community in hopes of getting the building up in running before having to consider shutting the clinic down permanently.