Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks to Gina Gibson about the resources at the Evansville Christian Life Center and health clinic.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to In Depth. Imagine if you’re having to make a choice. Do I spend my money on food or medicine? Chances are I should ration my healthcare. But will my children be able to have food? That’s happening to millions of Americans, including many here in the Tri-State. So, what do you do? Joining me tonight is Gina Gibson. She is the executive Director/CEO of the Evansville Christian Life Center; she is also the author of “The Community I See – Why I Have Hope for a Better Evansville.” Gina thank you so much for being here.
Gina Gibson: Thank you.
Brad Byrd: You say you’re trying to fight poverty and strengthen families right here in Evansville. First, I think that people might not be aware of the scope of poverty right here in our community. Tell me about that.
Gina Gibson: You know poverty is affecting people in many, many ways and as the healthcare costs and food rises and gas prices rise, those families just can’t afford to keep up. And so, there are so many in our community who are doing without. And that’s what the Evansville Christian Life Center is trying to do is trying to meet those needs.
Brad Byrd: And we’re talking about a lot of people here. The poverty rate here in Evansville is estimated to be between 20% and 22%. That is 1 out of 5 people in this community so, where have you begun to try and make a dent in this and helping folks?
Gina Gibson: We have a couple of places where we’ve tried to help this and move the needle forward. We feel like our goal is to help families. People are recommended to come into the Evansville Christian Life Center – we have an anti-poverty initiative program, where they can be a part of that, and we help them on their journey – walk on their journey out of poverty. But we also have a healthcare clinic. Healthcare is a big deal and it puts people into poverty, if they weren’t there before. So, we have medical needs we meet, pregnancy needs and dental needs.
Brad Byrd: and we just saw a photo of that clinic. Tell me how this works though – insurance. Tell me what happens if you walk through those doors, you may have a child who has a bad sinus infection, possibly strep throat or what have you, walk me through that.
Gina Gibson: We’re for the uninsured, the under insured, we’re for individuals just like myself and I say that because if you’re uninsured or under insured we’ll based that off a sliding fee scale based off of your income and we don’t let anyone not receive care. We’re going to make sure that everyone who walks through our door gets care. But for someone like myself, who does have insurance, I don’t have a family practice doctor because they moved out of Evansville, but I can go to our clinic and use my insurance and my co-pay and pay that to the clinic and I am paying it forward for someone who can’t afford medical care.
Brad Byrd: For people who can’t afford medical care, just getting into this clinic – I assume there’s a fear factor, am I going to be turned away? And you tell me that insurance plays a role on this but the impact of prenatal care and the impact that could have on children later on in life. Why is that so important?
Gina Gibson: Our pregnancy care services are doing a pregnancy test, an ultrasound, an STD test – is at no charge. We want to make sure that we help that young woman, or that young mama, or think she might be a young mama walking through the doors. We want to make sure she gets the care. The prenatal care is the most important part. We have – in the state of Indiana – a very high infant mortality rate and because of that a lot of them were not able to get connected to their Medicaid quick enough. We had at one point women walking through our doors at 30 weeks along and had never seen a doctor. And so, we want to help them get connected to that care.
Brad Byrd: Speaking of being connected – it is connected as far as well diet is concerned. Research has shown that a lot individuals who are on very low income they tend to go to more processed foods, foods loaded with sodium, fat, sugar, and that can cause future health issues. So, you’re really starting what goes around comes around. And how does the clinic help and how does the life center help that?
Gina Gibson: One of the things you just said, you said healthcare begins way back on what you eat. Unfortunately, the processed foods and the junk foods are cheaper than what the healthier choices are. So, we’re trying to get them connected. We have a food co-op that folks in our anti-poverty initiative can be apart of. And so, we try to get them connected to healthier foods, but we wanna make sure they’re coming into the healthcare clinic and getting those checkups and the things that they need. You and I go on a regular basis. Folks in poverty may not have a general practice doctor and so, that’s what we want to be for them, we want to be that, we want to talk to them about healthier choices, we want to talk to them about where they can start. Because if they didn’t grow up in a family who ate healthy and made healthy choices, they’re not going to know where and how to do that.
Brad Byrd: And you can find out more about the Evansville Christian Life Center and this clinic on their website. Gina Gibson, thank you so much for being here with us tonight.
Gina Gibson: Thank you.
(This story was originally published on August 22, 2019)