History of ECHO
In February of 2005, members of the First United Methodist Church of Eureka Springs, AR, held a brainstorming session addressing ways to make the church better. Several ideas in the area of local mission work were tossed about. One of those ideas was presented by Suzie Bell, providing a regular free meal to people in our area. After a bit of research, Dan and Suzie Bell decided that this was not the best way for our church to be in mission to the local community. Dan, a doctor, suggested that if the meal included free health care, people would come. The church approved the establishment of a steering committee to investigate possible requirements in personnel, location, and services.
By April the steering committee had visited other free clinics and written the rough draft of a business plan. By May, Dr. Bell had visited local churches to gauge community support, medical personnel had signed on, and start-up costs had been estimated. Our name, ECHO, Eureka Christian Health Outreach, had been chosen. In August, ECHO was in the news. Local newspapers carried articles reporting that the new clinic had received non-profit status. ECHO had moved from a steering committee of the Methodist Church to an organization with broad support in the community and a
Board of Directors. An outline of services was developed, financial guidelines were set, and perhaps most importantly, ECHO had a home.
A Home for ECHO
The Faith Christian Family Church offered the use of their school facilities. One large room of the school was divided into three exam rooms and a waiting area with nurse's station. A storage closet became a pharmacy. The stage would be home to toys and games for child care. And the gymnasium! Twice a month it would be transformed into an area that allowed people to have supper, go through patient eligibility, check in for the clinic, be triaged at the nursing station, visit social services, and qualify for
assistance with medications, all while waiting to see the doctor.
The Work Begins
On November 3, an organizational meeting was called for anyone in the community who wished to volunteer at ECHO. 150 people from our small community of just over 2000 attended and broke into small groups to learn the needs of the clinic and choose jobs. Just one week later, November 10, 2005, ECHO opened its doors to patients for the first time. That first night 40 volunteers tried out the newly established procedures and doctors treated 12 patients. Today the work of ECHO is carried out by 200 volunteers who served nearly 1000 patients last year. It remains a completely volunteer staff and is totally funded by donation.
ECHO Secures Permanent Building for Free Health Clinic!!!
At 10 o'clock the morning of Friday, September 4, 2009, Eureka Christian Health Outreach, more commonly known as ECHO, took a giant step to securing a permanent home for their free health clinic that extends medical services to those in the Eureka Springs (AR) area who cannot afford health care. The site for this 'step'
was on the steps of the Carroll County Courthouse-Western District when Dr. Dan
Bell, Medical Director, placed a winning bid on a building located here at 4004 East Van Buren. Formerly operated as the Yesteryears Antique Mall, the building sits at the corner of U.S. Highway 62 and Rock House Road.
And that is where we are today!
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