July 7, 2016

How Student, 20, Changed U.S. State Law for Adventist Free Clinic

It was Thursday, June 9 — only four short weeks before the free mega clinic organized by Your Best Pathway to Health was scheduled to open in my hometown of Beckley, West Virginia.

West Virginia’s law was not favorable to our plan to bring out-of-state medical professionals to Beckley on July 13 to 15.

In fact, it appeared that we might have to cancel the free clinic because we were unable to secure state licenses for physicians and dentists to participate in the event. As the person responsible for organizing the event on the ground, I was deeply worried.

Sean Worix, a 20-year-old pre-med student at West Virginia University. (Courtesy of Sean Worix)

Driving to the Mountain View Camp Meeting in Parkersburg, West Virginia, that Thursday, I had several hours to plead with God to show us the way forward.

Suddenly my cell phone rang. The voice on the other end was Sean Worix, a 20-year-old student from Beckley who was on summer break.

“I am at the State Capitol Building as a representative of a student leadership summit called HOBY,” Sean said.

Sean was calling from West Virginia’s capital, Charleston. HOBY is the acronym for Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership, an organization whose motto is “to train and nurture the young leaders of tomorrow.”

Sean continued: “I have been invited to address the governor’s Cabinet in just a few minutes. I want to tell them about Your Best Pathway to Health, but what should I tell them?”

I suggested that Sean give a brief synopsis of the mission of the free clinic and mention our need for temporary licenses for out-of-state physicians and dentists. Sean asked for prayer and hurriedly hung up.

I immediately telephoned Larry Boggess, president of the Adventist Church’s Mountain View Conference, who happened to be leading a meeting with his pastors. After listening to me quickly tell the story about Sean, he asked for immediate prayer. I listened on speaker phone as the group of pastors fervently prayed.

“I’m Your Guy”

Moments later my phone rang again. An excited Sean spoke on the other end.

He said that after he concluded his presentation, he was approached by Joey Garcia, director of legislative affairs for West Virginia’s governor, together with the governor’s secretary and chief of staff. Garcia asked for more information about how the state could help, and Sean explained how current state law prohibited Adventist medical professionals from coming to West Virginia to volunteer at the clinic.

“I’m your guy,” Garcia said. “I will see what I can do to help you and your organization.”

He gave Sean his contact information and asked that we send all requests to him.

But that’s not all that Sean has done in recent weeks.

State dental regulations meant that we could not provide dental services unless we were sponsored by either the West Virginia University School of Dentistry or the local dental association. Sean, who is a student at West Virginia University in Morgantown, contacted Richard Meckstroth, head of the School of Dentistry. When Meckstroth asked for additional information, I spoke with him by phone. He was most cordial and said he was a graduate of the Adventist Church-owned Loma Linda University in southern California. He also said we were giving him very short notice but he would do all he could to help us.

True to his word, Mecktroth arranged for our dentists to work under the auspices of the School of Dentistry, making it possible for us to have a dental department at the free clinic in Beckley.

A Free Forklift

Nine days before the clinic’s opening day, we needed a forklift. Sean went all over Beckley, population 17,600, before stopping at an equipment rental company close to the convention center where we’ll hold the clinic. He spoke to the managers, and they donated the use of a forklift.

Sean also made successful contacts with various department heads at the local hospital to be sure that they would partner with us.

Eight days to go, we needed an additional laboratory to process patients’ samples at the clinic. In just a few hours Sean made a successful contact with a major, Wall Street-listed company.

I asked Sean how he was able to meet the right people to cover our needs.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just pray before I go in and tell them what we need.”

That’s exactly what happened in the State Capitol Building. After Sean’s presentation and meeting with the governor’s top deputies, state lawmakers changed the law to allow out-of-state medical professionals to receive temporary licenses in West Virginia.

Interestingly, when Sean spoke in the State Capitol Building, the lawmakers were not scheduled to gather in legislative session again until the fall because of the summer break. But the lawmakers found themselves in a special session because they had failed to finalize the state budget earlier. This made it possible to change the law to accommodate the Adventist free clinic.

God is in control!

Naomi Tricomi is a Bible worker in Beckley, West Virginia and the person on the ground responsible for organizing Your Best Pathway to Health in Beckley.