Free Health Clinic Grows with $200,000 Arlington Tomorrow Foundation Grant
By Office of Communication
Posted on March 29, 2018, March 29, 2018


Open Arms Health Clinic has a clear mission - to provide free, quality and compassionate health care to uninsured and low-income North Texans.

Yet for years a lack of space forced the small clinic to turn away patients.

"The need is so great," Executive Director Fran Martin said. "Turning people away is the hardest thing we do."

Open Arms is now getting a big boost, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation that helped the nonprofit nearly triple the size of its clinic. Renovations are almost complete, allowing the clinic to expand its offerings, from counseling services to more patient education, and bring all of its services under one roof. Open Arms celebrated the new building with an Open House earlier this month.

Housed in a spacious building on Little Road, Open Arms now boasts nine exam rooms, three more than the previous location on Green Oaks Boulevard. In addition, the center has three counseling rooms, two classrooms and space for a computer lab and childcare facility.

Before the move, Open Arms searched for creative solutions. It held patient education classes at a nearby church, and it turned a storage room into an intake area for patients to have their vitals taken. Boxes, bookshelves and equipment lined the hallways.

"It is a night and day difference," Martin said. "We could not be more grateful for the opportunity to serve our community."

Martin, a retired nursing instructor at the University of Texas at Arlington, founded Open Arms 2011 along with Dr. Bob Ure, a local family doctor, and Sandy Laird, a nurse practitioner and nursing professor at UT Arlington.

The three envisioned a practice where patients could not only seek holistic treatment, but also assume an active role in their health care.

Word spread, and volunteers and patients flocked to the clinic.

In 2016, Open Arms reported 2,800 appointments; that number jumped to 3,004 in 2017. This year, the new space will allow the clinic to treat 20 percent more patients.

Roughly 90 percent of patients have chronic illnesses, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Providing education to patients and their families is a major part of the clinic's work.

About 50 regular volunteers help run the clinic, and that number is growing. Many come from St. Barnabas United Methodist in Arlington, to which Martin belongs, and other area congregations.

Open Arms has more plans in the works. The clinic plans to expand counseling services and is looking for an ophthalmologist to offer eye exams and a dentist.

"We serve the working poor, uninsured and underinsured," said Dr. James Jacobson, one of the volunteer physicians. "Our patients are so appreciative, not because the treatment is free, but because they are respected here."

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