TENAHA, TX (KTRE) - A nurse practitioner once witnessed a 16-year-old mother with a critically ill infant refused medical service because she didn't have health insurance and decided there should be a place where that would never happen again thus The HOPE project was born.'
It's been more than 11 years since that happened and the project has grown and expanded to include even more services for East Texans.
It's tucked away in Tenaha but the hope project attracts patients from all over East Texas, some as far away as North Dallas who need medical and dental care.
"Everything that you can imagine walks through the door," said executive director, Jean Diebolt.
And to the staff at the non-profit clinic, it's more than just a job.
"They're here to help people," said Diebolt. "It's more a mission than a job. I think that's what makes it work. People here really care."
The medical clinic sees anywhere between 40 to 50 patients daily while the two full time dentists see about 30.
HOPE Dental offers a full range of dental services at a reasonable cost and with the new dental facility expanding across the street from the clinic the number of patients is expected to increase 150 percent.
"From braces to whitening on the one end down to implants and periodontal. People travel 80 miles to see a periodontist when you can do it right here," said Diebolt.
The clinic was primarily run by nurse practitioners for the past 10 years and just last month they got their first full-time doctor.
"A doctor makes it possible to get grants from the state," said Diebolt. "Money to treat."
The Hope Project has state-of-the art, up-to-date equipment a and has never turned anyone away plus they always work with people so they can afford their health and dental care.
"One way or another if you need the care we'll figure out a way to get the care for you," said Diebolt.
In addition to providing quality-affordable care the non-profit is also working to reach out into the different ethnic communities within East Texas with community health workers.
"To have a liaison in their community they would be able to hear them and understand what their needs are and then bring them here to get those needs taken care of," said Diebolt.
Diebolt calls the clinic a labor of love and way to change people's lives for the better.
She says the Episcopal Health Foundation is looking at using the HOPE Project as a pilot and blue print to replicate their efforts in other counties.
For more information about the HOPE Project and the services they provide or to make an appointment go here: http://www.thehopeprojecttexas.org/