SHELBY, N.C. (WNCN) — Washington Outreach Ministry believes in bringing services to people and meeting the needs of the community.
In March, the ministry launched its latest service.
“In our partnership with Atrium Health, we have the first primary care mobile unit in Cleveland County,” said Rev. Frances Webber. “We’re just expanding, and things are just moving so quickly in all different areas to help the county in a holistic approach, not just emergency or crisis situations.”
The unit will be similar to a mobile urgent care and will be used to treat minor ailments and injuries, such as sprains, cuts, diagnosing flu and strep throat, as well as long-term illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and heart disease.
“They can refer to any Atrium Health facility in the area for screenings,” Webber said. “It’s a state-of-the art bus unit.”
She said there is a nurse practitioner, EMT and medical assistant on staff, and they see patients from ages 2 and up.
In addition to treating immediate issues, the provider can also connect people to resources for non-healthcare needs such as food or transportation.
Webber said the goal is to cover all the elements of what people are dealing with.
The mobile unit is on-site at Washington Outreach Ministry at 2007 Capernium Road near Cherryville every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, and there is no cost and insurance is not required.
Webber said they’ve had pretty good attendance so far but are trying to get the word out in the community.
She said it’s especially important to have the unit in rural areas with limited access to services and many low income families.
Another goal of Washington Outreach Ministry is to have food pantries wherever Atrium Health has virtual clinics in the county, at Kingstown and Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
“In rural areas, there’s nothing up there, and it’s too far to walk,” Webber said.
The bus is just the latest undertaking from the ministry, along with its diabetes education course, summer camp for kids and biweekly food distribution.
“Everything we do at Washington Outreach Ministry is free,” Webber said. “We depend on community, grantors, partnerships and donations to make it all happen.”
She said the partnerships they have formed in the community have made a difference and has enabled them to do the work they do.
“We’re better together,” Webber said. “That’s the slogan.”
She said a lot of work is being done in Cleveland County, but it’s often done in silos. The biggest change comes from working together.
“That’s where the impact of changing the culture and social status of a community comes in, and we are excited to be a change agent in Cleveland County,” Webber said.
She said she is passionate about going to the people where they are and meeting needs.
“We take on these challenges because we understand the needs. It’s one thing to have sympathy for a crisis situation, but another thing to have empathy and get in the trenches with people. I cannot sit behind this desk and understand street outreach. I have to get out there,” she said.
She said the vision she created for Washington Outreach Ministry years ago is all coming to pass. In 2018, Webber sat down and wrote out all the things they hoped to accomplish with the ministry.
“We are right on target with the vision,” she said.
Webber said that God told her if she wrote down the vision and made the plan, those who needed to would read it, take it and run with it.
“Right now we’re having growing pains, which is a good thing,” Webber said. “We are excited to be a leader in the community.”