“No one should have to decide between food and healthcare,” says Ed Doerner, Gateway Healthcare Clinic Director and Senior Pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church
in Midland. With inflation rates and consumer prices on the rise, many families are making trade offs. Choosing hunger over healthy eating, and opting for pain rather than healing, many Americans are making difficult decisions where they prioritize their spending.
A message on the Gateway Healthcare Facebook page says, “Don't let the cost of inflation stop you from receiving healing today. We are accepting new patients and specialize in providing care to those who are uninsured, underinsured, or face barriers to healthcare.”
Gateway Healthcare Clinic Director Jim Mier, chats with Adrienne Schmitt.Gateway Healthcare
opened their doors to the public on July 5th and it is a one of a kind model. “You won’t find anything like Gateway,” says Doerner. It’s located in the McCreadie’s Corner plaza at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Dartmouth Drive in Midland’s Center City.
Gateway Healthcare was developed from the idea that healthcare should be affordable and accessible to everyone. Focusing on the ALICE population, Gateway Healthcare provides office visits for no more than $40 per visit. Although the actual cost of a visit is closer to $75, Gateway offers opportunities for community members and clients to donate toward patient and administration costs to help the next client that comes through Gateway’s door needing primary medical care. If a client does have health insurance, their insurance will be billed Medicare rates.
Adrienne Schmitt, right, confers with PA (physician assistant) John Roberts.
From the Michigan Association of United Ways, ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE represents those in our communities who are working yet still struggle to make ends meet. 58 percent of all jobs in Michigan pay less than $20 per hour, contributing to a growing number of Michigan households living on the cusp of ALICE. The poverty level for a family of four in Michigan is $25,750, these families often qualify for additional assistance with food and healthcare. The ALICE population, earning between $25,750 to $64,116 for a family of four, often does not qualify for food or healthcare assistance. Although ALICE earns more than the poverty level, they earn less than the basic costs of living for families in Michigan. This was the gap that Gateway Healthcare is filling, becoming ALICE’s gateway to quality, affordable healthcare.
ALICE households are forced to make difficult choices such as skipping preventative health care, accredited child care, healthy food or car insurance. These ‘savings’ threaten their health, safety, and future- and they reduce Michigan's economic productivity and raise insurance premiums and taxes for everyone. The costs are high for both ALICE families and the wider community, according to United Way of Michigan. “Gateway Healthcare has established an operating model that provides important primary care services to hard-working people that typically must choose between food, shelter costs, or a doctor’s visit. They also help people access additional affordable quality services through our great hospitals in the region.” says Michael Goad, President and CEO at Dow Credit Union.
Gateway Healthcare is located at 600 Cambridge Street in Midland.
According to the Michigan Association of United Ways
, 38 percent of Michigan families struggle to afford the basics of housing; housing, child care, food, technology, healthcare and transportation. Ed Doerner and his network of caring community members are on a mission to combat the struggle that many families in Midland County face. Doerner says, “When an individual has issues with food, transportation, or housing they can often seek help from friends, family, or other community services. But when you are sick, or hurt without healthcare, what do you do? Where do you go?” Being able to provide affordable healthcare through Gateway Healthcare and options for referrals, is an answer to this question.
“Gateway Healthcare is a great place to go to get immediate help with any health issue. When our family practice refused to see anyone with cold symptoms during the worst of the pandemic, Gateway was open and catering to families needing answers. They safely conducted car side Covid tests with reliable results. They also provided our family with a sports physical and a super reasonable price. We appreciate their dedication to our community’s health.” says Sarah, a Gateway Healthcare client.
Gateway Healthcare's website describes its mission as "Reaching one more life with Jesus through affordable healthcare."
Doerner has already developed services within the transportation, housing, and food industries, helping families that are on the cusp of poverty. Doerner and Gateway’s Board of Directors utilized models that they have learned from other endeavors including The Bridge Food Center
, His Hands Auto
, and Pivot Point
, to bring Gateway’s Values of Dignity, Healing, and Affordability to the Midland Community. In a recent presentation to the Midland Rotary Club, Doerner noted that at the beginning of an appointment with a client, a Gateway staff member offers to say a prayer. The client may decline but a very high percentage so far have said yes.
"Gateway client Jayme says, "My husband and I are home from the mission field and we were so blessed to be able to afford to have well check ups. We felt loved and cared for from the moment we walked through the door. It's been 5 years since I have seen a doctor or had a checkup. Because of this amazing crew at Gateway Healthcare, Junior and I have both been checked out and are doing well.“
Gateway Healthcare celebrates that they can and are helping people. Client Stacey says, “What a great experience at Gateway today. John was kind and caring and predictably knowledgeable! I came in with some neck pain and he helped me. I will be back whenever I need care.” Offering prayer if wanted, follow up care, referrals, resources for help with transportation and food insecurity, Gateway Healthcare really is a one of a kind medical facility. Heather, a Gateway Healthcare client says, “Wonderful medical team that will listen to your concerns and discuss what your options are. Very clean and comfortable office. I will recommend them to everyone.” This quote and others from clients in this article were posted on Gateway’s Facebook page and then confirmed for use in this article.
Gateway Healthcare's future plans are to provide in-house mental health care at the rate of $25 per hour for qualifying patients. They are also developing a primary healthcare plan to bring to the business community that would help small business owners provide quality health coverage for their local employees.
Gateway is open Monday through Friday, 8am-Noon, and every weekday from 1:30pm-5:30pm except Wednesday. They are closed on weekends. For more information, call 989-259-1000 or go to gwhealthcare.net