GREENVILLE — Everyone should have at least minimal medical care — regardless of economic circumstances — and that includes chiropractic, according to Dr. Aaron Rackham of Rackham Chiropractic Plus in Greenville. To that end, Rackham has set up Charity Chiropractic Clinic next to the Arms of Love Food Pantry and Thrift Store.
Not a free clinic, but rather one in which patients pay with donations to the pantry — $5, five food items or a donation of time — the clinic is intended not only to serve the economically disadvantaged, but also increase awareness of the pantry.
“It’s really my very small way of helping those who need chiropractic care and helping the Arms of Love organization do good things in our community,” Rackham said. “It’s not a free clinic. It’s a clinic for uninsured or under-insured.”
Rackham came up with the idea years ago, while reading about the Doctors Without Borders program, in which physicians volunteer time and services in third world countries. He wanted to do something similar, but locally. Though he discussed the notion with Pastor Tommy Turner of the Jesus Nondenominational Church in Greenville, nothing much came of it.
According to Rackham, he was hoping someone else would take the initiative and he could simply “jump on board” once a program of some sort was in place. Problem is, nobody else was taking the initiative.
“My wife finally just told me, you need to start it,” Rackham said. “So I did. We donated stuff to help build and set up the clinic. My goal was two-part; I wanted to give back to that community that has received me and my family, but I also want to bring an awareness for the food pantry.”
By allowing patients to pay with canned good or volunteer hours at the pantry, Rackham has been able to introduce many area residents to the pleasures of volunteering. People who would never have even thought about the need for volunteers at the pantry are now truly enjoying the time they spend there, Rackham added.
“It’s great to see that energy coming into someone’s life,” Rackham said. “And I can tell people who can’t afford my regular clinic that there is an alternative.”
Rackham isn’t worried about losing business at his regular clinic. For one thing, the clinic at the pantry is open only from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays.
Also, the doctor is a believer in Karma, the idea that if you’re doing something good for your community, it will come back to you. That’s a philosophy shared by Karen Morales, who serves as president of the food pantry and oversees day to day operations there.
Early last summer, Morales was wondering what to do with extra space at the pantry when Rackham approached her with the idea of a payment-by-donation clinic.
“I showed him the front room and he said it would be perfect,” Morales said. “He’s got two rooms he can use and a little waiting room. He’s been trying to get some other doctors and nurses to come in and do little things, maybe even a lawyer, just to provide little services.”
Metron Integrated Health Services has already shown some interest in joining the effort and will be providing a nurse to perform minor checks like blood pressure and so on. Eventually, blood sugar analysis and other services might be added.
Rackham is hopeful that eventually Metron or another health care provider might be convinced to bring in a physician during the Thursday afternoon operating hours.
“I would like to see this become a triage, so to speak, sort of a screening facility,” Rackham said. “I’d love to see a hospital donate some time.”
It could be a win-win situation for a hospital, he added, because it would help cut down on emergency room visits from uninsured or underinsured patients. All that’s off in the future somewhere, though. For now, Rackham is happy to have simply gotten the program underway.
“You have to start somewhere,” he said.
For more information on either the clinic or Arms of Love pantry, call (616) 225-0830.