By Billy Holbrook
“Tommy” is a long time patient of MercyMed. He recently stopped me in the parking lot out back. At first, I thought he mistook me for Dr. Scarborough which happens often. I still recall a lady, at the nearby Marathon, who was convinced I was Dr. Scarborough. She asked my opinion on what I would do for her back pain. Even after I told her that I wasn’t the doctor, she continued to list her ailments. I listened politely and told her to take two aspirin and call the clinic in the morning.
Tommy didn’t need the doctor that day. Instead, he was looking to share his story with me. This kind man said our counselor, Peggy, and his doctor, Grant, had done so much for him. He told me that without this clinic, he did not know what he would do. He explained, “MercyMed serves so many people who need help, and I wanted to do something for them because y’all have done so much for me.”
I want to pause this story to give you some context. When Tommy started talking, I didn’t want to be interrupted. I just wanted to walk into the clinic and do whatever was on my list inside. I can become so caught up in my own world and quickly slip into a cynic. I assumed I would be asked to give, but my skepticism was quickly replaced by a sense of wonder at the man in front of me. Tommy poured out his heart. He told me how compelled he was, by the Lord, to make a meaningful sacrifice for people he did not know. Shame on me for jumping to conclusions.
Tommy told me that he wanted to donate one of his most valuable possessions to the clinic – his drum kit. It was the one he had used years ago to record with his band. He asked Peggy if MercyMed could use it. She explained we didn’t really have space or much of a good use for them. She encouraged him to keep them or perhaps find a musician who could play them. Some time passes, then he comes across an old friend looking for a good drum kit to buy for his son. Tommy shows his friend the drums, makes the sale for $565, comes to MercyMed, and interrupts my routine with a selfless and sacrificial donation to our mission.
I was stopped in my tracks by this significant and meaningful gift. Tommy accomplished just what he set out to do. His gift went straight to our mission of providing affordable healthcare. Here’s how: (Pardon my bulleted list.)
- The low end of our sliding fee scale for the uninsured is $25 per encounter.
- Our cost per patient is approximately $75.
- For those who pay us $25 we have a deficit of about $50.
- Tommy covered MercyMed for 11 patient encounters.
Imagine the Starbucks “pay it forward” you come across in the drive thru, but apply that concept to healthcare for the underserved. Tommy was the guy taking care of it for 11 full appointments.
His donation was one of the most meaningful gifts I have witnessed MercyMed receive. No one mailed him an annual report asking for a gift. No one called him and asked him if they could update him on the exciting things happening at MercyMed. He simply experienced the clinic first hand, and wanted to give away his excess to something he really believed in.
I am thankful for the interruption of my day. I am thankful for Tommy’s generosity. He showed mercy here, and he showed mercy to others.