Local nonprofit aims to bring compassionate healthcare in South Philadelphia, regardless of ability to pay

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For decades, many in the city of Philadelphia have challenged the inequality when it comes to the healthcare system for disenfranchised communities.

In South Philadelphia, one nonprofit is expanding its vision for a compassionate community health care center.

Founded in 2012, the mission of Miriam Clinics, Inc (MMC) is to provide multi-disciplinary competent, compassionate, and accessible health care regardless of the ability to pay.

Having temporary locations in North Philadelphia and along 12th and Spring Garden streets, Miriam Clinic will finally have a permanent home that will allow them to grow.

"We've been working to provide health care to the disenfranchised, to the medically indigent for almost eight years now," said Dr. Michael Johnson, who is the medical director at Miriam Clinic. "Our vision is to provide healthcare for people who fall between the cracks, who are uninsured or underinsured, whose co-pays are so high that they have to make a decision between if they're going to see the doctors, buy their medicines or put groceries on the table."

Their permanent home, which is a row house located on the corner of 20th and Tasker streets, was donated by Tasker Street Baptist Church, which previously housed the church's youth ministry.

Raising thousands of dollars from both supporters online and within the community, the utility bills and insurance were covered, helping get the clinic up and running.

"When we received the building, it had to be re-zoned," said Kay Johnson, who is the administrator for Miriam Clinic. "It required signatures of support from the community. When we had to go before the zoning board, we had several of the prominent members of the community here to get together and go with us to the board."

Johnson says some of those community members included councilmember Kenyatta Johnson who spoke on behalf of the church and the clinic to help make this process possible.

Another big assist in these efforts is from the help of a local architect who lives in Point Breeze, that drew up plans for the space free of charge.

MMC is temporarily stationed in Spring Garden until the completion of their permanent South Philadelphia location is complete.

Pharmaceutical care director and president of Miriam Clinic Dr. Cornelius D. Pitts, says the timing for this space could not have come at a much greater time.

"Many of the Black and brown communities don't have such access for a variety of reasons," said Pitts. "Not having primary care doctors, not trusting the healthcare system."

Pitts says the clinic plans to offer compassionate care in ways to build trust and engagement within the community overall.
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