By Ruth Stoll, R.N., Founder of Beacon Clinic
Finding a way to meet the holistic needs of people without adequate resources has been a long journey for Ruth Stoll, R.N. It’s a long way from her work with the Visiting Nursing Agencies in Newark, NJ and Southeast Washington, DC, to Harrisburg, PA. In the spring of 2011, Ruth, along with two other nurses, were given a charge by the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to reach out to the Dauphin County community with a goal of developing a healthcare ministry in the community. This exciting vision fit her commitment to Jesus’ command “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was Me – you did it to Me!” (Matt.25:40)
We desired to provide free, faith-based, non-federally funded primary healthcare for persons in need. Key data from our own survey, and that of others, confirmed “regions of Harrisburg represented some of the highest rates of uninsured individuals where major barriers to healthcare access existed” and those rates continue to this day. After discovering what health and social resources were available, we found other individuals and organizations who wanted to partner with us in our clinic ministry. We desired to serve those who were homeless; in transition between jobs or countries; and those feeling hopeless and helpless in ill health.
We began actively seeking funding through donations, grants, and pledges for service. There were many days of questioning if our vision would become reality. God has a plan and our committee persevered! The timeline for the clinic’s opening had to be adjusted time and again because of the tremendous challenges in finding a suitable and affordable ADA-accessible site that would meet with Zoning Board approval. Beacon Clinic finally opened in March 2015 at 248 Seneca Street, Harrisburg and continues to grow. We are providing primary healthcare, free medications when needed, health education, and referrals to other free services as well.
Today, we have a very active Executive Director on board, along with a supportive Board of Directors. Our volunteer staff of receptionists, eligibility coordinators, nurses and providers of care continues to expand. Both Messiah College senior nursing students and Penn State Milton S. Hershey College of Medicine first year medical students are having excellent educational experiences in community health with their clinical hours at Beacon Clinic. Some have enjoyed their experience so much; they come back and volunteer after graduation.
Beacon Clinic would not be what it is today if it were not for the many inspired, passionate and committed persons who have contributed their time, talents and treasures – both professionally and financially to the development of the clinic and its services. The clinic has made a positive impact on our patients and their families…we are the love of Christ in action.