As published in the May/June 2019 issue of The Central Voice (

Beacon Clinic for Health and Hope celebrates its 4th anniversary this year.

The organization’s mission “is to inspire hope, health and well-being by providing high quality, culturally competent, free faith-based primary healthcare to underserved and uninsured adults in the greater Harrisburg area,” executive director Debra McClain tells The Central Voice.

McClain came to Beacon Clinic six months ago after more than three decades as a licensed insurance and financial services professional.

The clinic focuses on caring for patients that are living within the poverty level and those individuals who are underserved for various reasons. “We assess a patient’s needs and the social environment impacting their wellness and access to care,” McClain explains.

Education is provided to those with chronic illnesses to help them learn to make choices that will enable their overall wellness and contribute to their longevity.

The clinic is a Core Solution Partner in Health with the United Way of the Capital Region. They also collaborate with other community partners like UPMC Pinnacle, Lion Care at Bethesda Mission, Penn State Health and Drayer Physical Therapy. Beacon Clinic can seek aid in securing appropriate diagnostic testing and expanded services for those with complex, critical or life-threatening conditions.

Beacon Clinic has provided free outpatient primary healthcare to more than 1,200 adults in need. Clinic data indicates care has been provided to people from 37 different countries, representative of 26 different languages. In 2018, 422 patients were helped.

Over 2,500 medications were provided to those in need.

The patient population has grown approximately 30% each year. Patients are treated with a variety of needs such as: infections, high blood pressure, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and general aches and pains.

McClain explains that “Continuity of Care is provided. For example, a diabetic patient initially came with an extremely high A1C of 13.5. This could lead to long-term adverse effects of diabetes. A recent visit revealed an A1C of 5.5!” A lower score indicates well- controlled diabetes which can lead to longevity and an improved quality of life.

This spring Beacon Clinic partnered with Penn State Health’s residents and medical students to offer free education classes for our diabetic patients and their families. The first class was held in March sharing how food is an important part of wellness. A division of Penn State Health, Prevention Produce, brought in a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, discussing food choices.

“All attendees went home with bags of free food and recipes,” McClain said. AETNA Better Health provided portion plates for patients to take home to help them learn appropriate portion sizes.

The clinic receives calls from other various organizations looking to secure help for others, including the Department of Corrections.

“Corrections counselors call when they have an individual who cannot secure health insurance for one reason or another, or the person is getting insurance but has a medical need prior to activation, we have been able to assist those persons to get the care they need while in transition,” McClain said.

Beacon Clinic is primarily staffed by volunteers. If you’d like to help as a receptionist, data entry, registered nurse, or doctor or nurse practitioner, please contact

The organization works from 248 Seneca Street, Harrisburg, with entrance in the rear of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Appointments are required.

Who is Debra McClain?

Debra McClain

Debra McClain has served as volunteer President & CEO of the Central Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (now known as Keystone Business Alliance). She served as a Supplier Diversity Panelist on behalf of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and on Governor Wolf’s Advisory Board for Energy, Business & Economic Development.

McClain is also the Coordinator of Hand Up, a homeless ministry through MCC of the Spirit. She lives in the Harrisburg area with her wife and is also a mother and grandmother.