Hope through Health Care

Geographically, Heal the City hasn’t moved far from its original location, a 1,400-square-foot house near Generation Next Worship Center on historic Sixth Street. But the organization has definitely come a long way since those early years.

Now located in the former Midtown YMCA at 609 S. Carolina St.—a 20,000-square-foot space it continues to remodel—Heal the City today impacts the health and well-being of thousands of Amarillo residents.

The nonprofit started in 2013 when Dr. Alan Keister offered free health screenings at elementary schools. The response was huge, especially in the San Jacinto community. So in 2014, he opened a free health clinic in the historic neighborhood.

Every Monday night, an average of 80 patients lined up around the block to be treated, and volunteers saw around 4,000 patients that first year. Since then, the clinic has expanded beyond Mondays, grown into 13 dedicated exam rooms, started providing free cervical and breast cancer screenings, and begun offering immunizations for school children.

It also introduced Shalom, a chronic care program for a large segment of patients, providing on-site optical exams and weekly meals for those struggling with food insecurity. And during 2020, Heal the City tallied more than 17,000 patient encounters and filled close to 26,000 prescriptions. The clinic now schedules appointments five days a week. 

Meanwhile, the organization is currently renovating 7,000 square feet of its headquarters into a wellness center, projected to open in September with a walking track for patients, a group fitness room, and educational classrooms. 

According to Executive Director Chelsea Stevens, mental health services are another addition. Job losses and the pandemic caused mental health concerns to skyrocket. “We received grant funding to help us help patients diagnosed with anxiety or depression during COVID, or post-COVID,” she says. “Our goal is to strengthen that resource, whether it’s through group therapy classes or general counseling accessibility for those patients.”

That holistic approach makes Heal the City unique—and that’s why the organization constantly seeks volunteers to serve alongside its staff of 35 employees. “We need so many variations of skill sets to make
this place work. Not just medical but dental, vision, spiritual health, social workers, nurses, people
good at filing paperwork. We want volunteers who are passionate about wellness,” says Stevens. “The community sees the difference we’re making and are bringing their skills and talents to take care
of patients.”

With 60 percent of patients speaking Spanish, Heal the City also needs bilingual volunteers, exercise trainers, mental health counselors and more. 

“We get a lot of people asking if we’re taking volunteers now,” Stevens says. Her answer is yes. “We are definitely ready to welcome them back.” Learn more and get involved at healthecityamarillo.com. 

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