More than 50 people showed up April 4 to celebrate the opening of an all-in-one social services center and medical clinic.
"We came to celebrate what God is doing," said the Rev. Paul Gray as he stood in the crowded lobby of the new Leo Center on the eastern end of the first level of the former Riverfront Mall. "Certainly he is the one who deserves the credit."
The Leo Center, with its featured attraction, the Heartland Medical Clinic, opened its doors April 5. The 7,800-square-foot center puts the clinic at the same site as a food pantry, a new entity called Love Lawrence and a marriage and family counseling center, among other services.
The center is named after famed disabled but independent Lawrencian Leo Beuerman, who was the subject of the 1969 Academy Award-nominated film "Leo Beuerman." Beuerman died in 1972.
The medical clinic serves people who do not have medical insurance. Its patients include the homeless and poor as well as people who have jobs but don't receive medical insurance from their employer, said clinic director Amy Berthold. Patients are asked for a $10 donation but no one is turned away, she said.
The medical clinic moved to the new site from the basement of the Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt., where it had been since it was founded by Dr. Dennis Sale in October 1999.
"We have a lot more capability here," Berthold said, noting that everything in the clinic was donated or paid for with donations.
"The other place was like working out of a suitcase," said Dr. Paul Kurth, who along with Sale and Dr. Gillian Stephens are the primary physicians working at the clinic with other health care personnel. "Now we'll be able to operate more like a full-service clinic."
Sale said he never dreamed the clinic would one day operate in such modern, spacious quarters.
"We feel like the Lord has helped us every step of the way," Sale said.
"It's exciting to see this all transpire," said Diane Chrislip, Heartland Church's office manager.
Susan Jones, who was among those celebrating the new center, agreed. "Each step of the way God provided for it. It's been amazing to watch this."
In 2003 the clinic treated about 300 people a month, Berthold said. With expanded capability the number of patients might double, she said.