Travis shepherds clinic into new era

By Greg Gelpi

Her medical outreach into the world has taken a turn inward.

Dr. D. Ann Travis, a general family practitioner, is poised to become the medical director of the Good Shepherd Clinic, a free medical clinic in Morrow.

While she has invested more than a decade of medical practice in mission trips to such places as Haiti, Mexico and Ghana, this is a mission "within our borders."

"This opportunity gives me the pleasure of working in an environment of Christians, and I really appreciate it," Travis said. "It gives me the opportunity to help those with no other recourse."

Her faith in God keeps her going and keeps her giving of her time and talent, she said.

"We're taught to love others as Jesus loved us," Travis said. "This is a place where we can show love by administering to the physical needs of other people."

Travis will replace Dr. Thomas Kelley, the founder of the free clinic, at the end of the year. Kelley is moving to Florida, where he will take over his father's medical practice.

The Good Shepherd Clinic provides free medical service, but, Travis said, the typical image of a free clinic doesn't hold true.

Many envision a free clinic only serving homeless people living under bridges or pushing around shopping carts of personal belongings.

"The majority of people are like me and you," Travis said.

The clinic cares for those who work part time with no healthcare benefits, small business owners, people who recently lost their jobs and those who have been dropped from Medicaid, a group which continually grows, she said.

Janice, a patient at the clinic, has been visiting Good Shepherd for more than a year for a blood condition.

"If I didn't come here, I probably wouldn't have my medicines, and I would be dead," the 55-year-old Jonesboro woman said.

She called the work of the clinic a "wonderful experience," having visited the clinic for more than a year.

"More and more rely on people helping people," Travis said.

Carol Hawkins has been working with the Good Shepherd Clinic since it was only a "dream."

"From day one, I've been volunteering," Hawkins said. "It's been one of the most incredible opportunities to share Jesus Christ with the community."

The number of lives saved is amazing, she said.

"We have found so many cancers that would not have been found," Hawkins said of the woman's clinic portion of Good Shepherd.

Through detection, the clinic has been able to ease pain and save lives, she said.

"I think we're making the steps we've been wanting to for some time," Kelley said. "The need in the county is overwhelming."

The need, though, will be met with the "maximum" influx of resources, he said. Gradually, the clinic will move from caring for 10 patients weekly during its one night to being open five nights a week.

Kelley called it a "blessing" to watch people go from poor health to good health.

"I think it's just the joy we see in people's eyes when they see we're going to provide the care."

Along with the medical care, the clinic also provides emotional care, said Cliff Hewitt, the administrator of Cross Keys Center, a nondenominational counseling center.

"If you have one problem, then you're likely to have more than one problem," Hewitt said.

Many who come to the clinic suffer from depression, he said. In addition, the stress of not having a job or living on little income creates irritability and potential family violence.

For more information or to make an appointment at the clinic, call (770) 968-1310.