by Dr. Grant Scarborough
Three employees, an old empty bank and lots of friends – that was the complete make up of MercyMed six years ago. It is easy to forget how far we have come. Today we work out of three locations: a brand new building, a school, and the ground floor of the Baptist Association building. When I look around and see dentists, counselors, subspecialists, 6 full time providers, it is easy to forget that 6 years ago there were only three employees. Micah Carver was our office manager, front desk specialist, fund-raiser, and construction assistant. Karen Hobbs was our nurse, triage Medical Assistant, lab specialist, and mother of Micah and myself. I was the Doctor – but I also answered phones, worked up my own patients, cleaned the building and trimmed the hedges.
In November 2011, we purchased the building and started demolition. Hal Averett walked through the building and drew up some basic plans for the changes on a piece of used paper. He counted ceiling tile squares and looked under floor tiles and convinced us to keep marble flooring. A large group of friends, helped with the demolition to the entire building one November Saturday. They wore masks as dust flew up as the tile peeled off the floors. Dust flew down as sledgehammers brought walls down. There was a jack hammer going in the front of the building. We had a large group of military friends that started helping that day and some have never stopped helping. Bill Foss helped pull it all back together. Bill, Micah, and I worked through nights with minimal lights paying ourselves BBQ sandwiches along the way. Lucy Jones brought color and life to the building. We opened up January 19, 2012 with a waiting room that had blue floors, multi-colored chairs and a painting that I hung upside down because I liked it better that way. Many people in the community thought we were still a bank and so they brought in their money to make deposits, but this was a bank no more. We were a new building with the same purpose as the bank, to serve the community.
We opened up on January 19, 2012. We started off seeing one patient a day. We raised money to keep the door open. We soon had a volunteer nurse named Jordan, whose husband was in the military. As the word got out that we were open for business, the phone started to ring. We brought on another volunteer, Cheryl. Our first volunteer though was Janet Coppage who has stayed with us all six years. She can testify to our small beginning only six years ago. I did not even have an office. I had a chair in the morning, but when Janet showed up during office hours, she commandeered the chair and I was left with a wood board over the water fountain in the hallway to work.
Over these six years, we have had victories and tragedies. It has not been easy. It has increased my faith. I testify, the only way to watch your faith grow is to put yourself in the position where you have to totally trust God. We have prayed for money. We have prayed for staff. We have prayed God will bring us through conflict. All this was for one goal – to remember the heart of God who desires to care for the least of these. All the struggle has been worth it to see us live out caring for the poor. I celebrate today all the greatness and failures, because God’s heart goes forward through us.
Come that first February we had our open house. We had a great list of speakers that morning, but more important to me than the speakers were the volunteers. We had a young man show up that desired to volunteer because he wanted to go to medical school. His wife called me and I agreed as a favor to her. So I invited that young man to help direct traffic and park cars for our open house. A glorious beginning for my new friend. He had cars parked alphabetically, by year, make and model. Everything was straight and in order. I liked it so much I asked him to come back around, and he never left. Tony Nguyen answered phones, did EKGs, Spirometry, worked patients up, assisted with procedures. Soon he became our volunteer office manager and now he is in charge of operations for the whole organization. Bob Rosa was there as well volunteering. It was not a day of volunteering for him, it was the beginning of 4 years of volunteering as he and his wife cleaned the building weekly over that time period.
Since then we have had many come and go that helped advance the mission of MercyMed. Heather Kersey started much the same way as Tony and then took on the role as Director of Development. She has moved on to Atlanta where she is a fundraiser for Emory. Emily Kaltz came along out of college and worked the front desk. She is now in residency program at Emory with a desire to be a physician that cares for the poor, maybe here at MercyMed. Our first Physician Assistant was Sarah Mabini. We all still here desire to be more like Sarah. Many of our patients still miss her. She has moved on with her military husband to Seattle. We hope she returns one day. About the same time in winter of 2012, Meghan Brooks started. She desired to be an overseas missionary, but a broken foot kept her stateside. I have never been so thankful for a fractured foot. Cole Phillips, another college graduate, took Emily’s place in the front desk. He now has gone on to medical school with a desire to care for the poor as well, hopefully at MercyMed.
I could go on all the way up to 2018 telling stories of Caroline Osborne, Monique Jones, Sarah Crider, Will Finnell, and many many more. But the big picture for me today is the amazing bounty of God. He has done more than I could possibly imagine. The pain and struggle of fighting for this dream seem so small now as I look at the fruit. Patients have been changed, I have been changed. Out of necessity and a desire to reach more people, our clinic has grown. We have gone from a staff of 3 to 31. From 1 full time provider to 6 providers. God’s hands, reaching through us, now extend to many more patients and their families. People are hearing and seeing the love of Christ go forward. He is being exalted daily among our staff. I rejoice and praise God for these six years. May we continue to have His heart as we push forward His kingdom into this community.
Happy Birthday MercyMed. Happy Birthday.
Thank you Hal Averett. Thank you Robert Gipson and Ryan Crider, my military friends. Thank you Karen Hobbs. Thank you Jannet Coppage. Thank you Bill Foss. Without all of you, we would not be here today. Thank you Hal Brady. Thank you Lucy Jones. Thank You Sarah Mabini. You all make up the fabric of MercyMed. We thank God for you today.
Thank you Lord for keeping us together and moving us forward with a desire to love your people. Thank you for sustaining us. Thank you. May you receive all glory and honor and praise. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and glory – forever and forever – Amen.