October 11, 2015

Adventist Megaclinic Seeks to Assist Record 10,000 People in Los Angeles

, news editor, Adventist Review

Your Best Pathway to Health, a Seventh-day Adventist organization that has made a big splash with its megaclinics in the United States, is gearing up for its largest event as it lines up at least 3,000 volunteers to care for 10,000 people in Los Angeles.

Dr. Lela Lewis, president of the ASI-affiliated organization, told Adventist Church leaders gathered for Annual Council business meetings this weekend that the services of the Los Angeles free clinic would expand from the usual wide range of dental and medical services, haircuts, and free suits to include legal services.

“We are looking for lawyers because we will offer legal services for the first time,” Lewis said.

In all, Lewis is seeking 3,000 to 3,500 doctors, nurses, dentists, dental assistants, massage therapists, hairstylists, lawyers, and other volunteers to assist what she hopes will be a record turnout of 10,000 people over three days.

The megaclinic will be held from April 27 to 29 with the support of four area Adventist hospitals: the Loma Linda University Medical Center, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, White Memorial Medical Center, and Simi Valley Hospital.

The previous record for turnout was set last April when Your Best Pathway to Health cared for nearly 6,200 people over three days at San Antonio’s Alamodome stadium. Free clinics also have been held in San Francisco and Oakland, California, in April 2014, and in Spokane, Washington, in August 2015.

Altogether, 12,400 people have received nearly $40 million in free services, Lewis said.

Dr. Lela Lewis, right, being interviewed by CBS television at a free megaclinic. (Gerry Chudleigh / PUC)

The free clinics have dominated television and newspaper headlines in the cities where they have taken place. Astonished local residents have quizzed volunteers about their motives.

Evangelist Mark Finley, who has volunteered at the free clinics as a chaplain, said he often replies, “We believe if Jesus were here, He would be serving the underprivileged and uninsured.”

Finley interviewed Lewis about her experience in front of Annual Council attendees.

Lewis said she has been talking with well-placed people in California in hope of enlisting their support with the mammoth preparations for the next free clinic. Many, she said, have expressed surprised at the Seventh-day Adventist Church-backed event and exclaimed in disbelief, “This is the work of Jesus. This is the work Jesus would want you to do. Who are you people?”

She said several prominent figures are already helping her but declined to identify them, saying only, “If I mentioned their names, we would all recognize them.”

For more information about the free clinic, visit pathwaytohealth.org. To sign up as a volunteer, visit pathwaytohealthvolunteer.org.

Favorite stories from previous megaclinics

“Surprise Stories Emerge From Free Clinic in San Antonio” — Adventist Church leaders share behind-the-scenes stories from the free clinic that provided free treatment to thousands of people in San Antonio, including an overworked X-ray machine, an unexpected doctor’s referral, and a physician who prayed with a patient for the first time.

“San Antonio’s Free Clinic Changed Me as a Surgeon” — I’d never been as unprepared for a “mission”trip as I was for the Your Best Pathways to Health event in San Antonio. I put “mission” in quotation marks because I figured that if I wasn’t leaving U.S. soil, I wasn’t really engaging in missions. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“How I Saw Jesus’ Hands in San Antonio” — The woman in the waiting area covered her mouth with her hand every time she spoke. She told me that she was embarrassed by her teeth and had come to the Alamodome stadium in San Antonio, Texas, in hope of smiling again. She left with a big smile.

“2 Numbers You (Probably) Haven't Heard From San Antonio” — As thousands of people stood in line and left after treatment in San Antonio, they also picked up 23,180 pieces of Seventh-day Adventist literature with a retail value of $54,615. That translates to an astounching average of nearly four books, magazines, and tracts per patient.

“Homeless Man Gets Extreme Makeover in Spokane” — Anthony Fry, a 48-year-old homeless man, appreciated the blood tests and health assessments that he received in Spokane, Washington. But the most outwardly noticeable benefit that he gained from the Your Best Pathway to Health event was a new suit and a haircut.

“Woman’s Hair Combed After 8 Months” — After eight months of not being able to brush through her hair, Nicole had a mass of matted tangles that she said was very difficult to try to keep clean. Then she came to the Spokane megaclinic.