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MISSION COMPLETE: Ninth Street Ministries Free Medical Clinic Announces Closure


The Ninth Street Ministries – Medical Care Services Division only – has announced that after serving its community for over 15 years, it will no longer provide services as of April 24, 2014, and as the administrators explain through heavy hearts, “The mission is complete.”

The current Clinic Director, Stacey Bowser, explained there were many mixed emotions involved in the decision but said overall, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the need is no longer present – the patients that the ministry opened for are now being served.

The medical clinic served those found in the gap: Polk County citizens who were unable to obtain insurance but not eligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid. In January, Bowser explained, the clinic saw between 80 and 90 patients, dropping to 14 in February and only 3 in March.

An outreach ministry of the First Baptist Church, the free medical clinic officially opened its doors in a small refurbished home at 306 Ninth Street on June 20, 1998. All involved are very quick to give credit to the vision of one man, Dr. Rick Lochala, who possesses a strong passion for missionary work and recognized the need right here in his own community. He describes the closure as ‘bitter-sweet,’

“It’s like having your kids leave home and go to school or get married… it is sad that I am not needed but it is a good thing for them.  So it is a bitter-sweet time for us.  I am so thankful that we were able to serve the Lord by serving these people for the time we have. We will just look for other opportunities to serve.”

Lochala, responsible for writing the mission statement which captures the heart of the program, also served as the clinic’s Medical Director. The mission statement read: “In following the example of Christ, the Ninth Street Ministries Free Medical Clinic, seeing the need for medical care for the under-served, desires to minister to those people who have no insurance or do not have the means to acquire and maintain medical care.”

The clinic grew rapidly in patients as well as support from other area churches and the community. On June 22, 2008, one decade later from its opening, the ministry moved into the now modern building located on the corner of Ninth Street and Church Avenue. The new building offered a well-organized clinic, featuring examining rooms, pharmacy, private rooms for interviewing new patients, order and distribution of medications, and an organized space for the distribution of personal care items. The clinic shared the front room, which also serves as a waiting for the clinic, and a dining room for the Feeding Ministry.

The original building that first housed Ninth Street Ministries in 1998.
The original building that first housed Ninth Street Ministries in 1998.

The free clinic became a beacon of “help, hope, and love” in its community and its absence will certainly be felt by many as it offered much more than just free medical care and medicines to its patients. It has always been staffed entirely by dedicated volunteers.

Bowser, who has been volunteering since 2009, credits the clinic’s founders, Dr. Lochala, Bill and Katy Plunkett, Erma Mize, and the church for bathing the mission in prayer, as the reason for the large-scale impact the clinic has had on the local community.

Comparing it to successful projects in the mission field, Bowser said there is no need anymore. She said she feels very blessed to have fallen into her position and also explained that she knows she speaks for everyone when she says how greatly they all will miss the patients and the opportunity afforded to them through the church to provide help, hope, and love to those in need. She reiterated that all of the other ministries provided through Ninth Street will remain in place and the closure is for the free medical clinic only.



  1. The Ninth Street Ministries Free Medical Clinic deserves its many accolades for providing professional medical care to our less fortunate neighbors for all these years. Not only have they benefitted directly, but ALL of us have benefitted financially from the clinic’s services, which have seen many conditions treated before they became serious (and expensive) cases for hospital emergency rooms to address, where emergency medical services to the indigent have been paid for by the community at large through higher insurance premiums.

    Until now. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, our neighbors no longer have to treat every medical condition as a potentially bankrupting crisis. They can finally get the insurance they have always been denied. This can only result in more reasonable costs for medical care for us all. And a healthier community in general!

    Incidentally, hasn’t MyPulse in the past usually referred to this law by its other name, ObamaCare? I wonder why that has changed for a story about the significant good the law is doing for us all?

    • As Se. McConnell and numerous other conservatives have made their number one focus to ensure Obama being a one-term President and failed at that, their next goal would logically be to do nothing that would present any of his policies or accomplishments in a positive light.

      To this end, what they once derisively referred to as “ObamaCare” (ironic as it was the GOP who brought this idea to the table twice) will now be called the more accurate Affordable Care Act; thus avoiding the discomfort involved in praising anything he’s done.

  2. My goodness! I cannot believe that ObamaCare has suddenly filled a need that so many in the community had struggled so hard to meet for so many years. Thank you Ms. Dilbeck for showing the other side of the ObamaCare fiasco.

  3. Thank you Ninth Street Ministries for your years of dedicated services!

    And – thank you Pres. Obama and Democrats!

  4. I am glad to see this. It is good for the poor and the country. I do not understand how anyone could be against it.

  5. Stories like this need to be seen by everyone!

  6. Like rural electricity and social security and public schools and roads, health care is something we do best by working together. They are not communism, they are not violations of the constitution…they take care of needs that are basic to all citizens and that are done best in concert, not competition with each other. And let me express my praise and thanks for all those people who worked with or for the Mission all these years to provide services…in short doing “God’s work”.

  7. Well that seems to be about as ringing an endorsement of the ACA’s success as you can get.

    Eat your heart out, conservatives.

  8. Yet I can guarantee you Fox News, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Palin etc will totally ignore success stories like this and continue to spew their lies out to the public and Republicans will still listen to them!!! Such a shame!

  9. This should be required reading for every Republican member of the U.S. Congress.

  10. William Burgess Leavenworth

    Christ said “pick up your bed and walk.” He didn’t say “give me a mortgage on your house, then pick up your bed and walk.” It appears that this ministry has been doing Christ’s work, and “Obamacare” will take up where it left off. The two places where this country needs socialism are health care and education. The rest we can do co-operatively or in competition, but to get to the competitive level, we must all have good health and a good education.

    • Why wouldn’t the Republicans want more people smarter (hgiher learning) and healthy (healthcare)? I don’t understand why people don’t want people to live. It is sad. I thank God that I had and continue to have health insurance through my place of employment. I know that others don’t have that luxury with healthcare from their jobs. I can’t believe the big companies who requested a taxpayers loan to stay in business do not want their employees to be healthy to come to work. It’s like a wounded animal. Once he gets disabled, you throw him to the wolves to get eaten alive.

  11. Thrilled that this community is seeing a need met through this program. However, remember that your representative, Nate Bell, effectively tried to gut the ACA by writing in a denial of funding to continue advertising or sign-up assistance through IPA guides. In his own words, the intent was to keep people off of insurance by reducing the effectiveness of the Private Option. Please remember this as it comes time to vote.

  12. The blessings of the Lord, sometimes it takes awhile but the Lord is always there.

  13. It’s good that, because of the new health care insurance law, these people have come to the end of their ministry. But better in that they decided to start and run it in the first place!

    Let’s hope that they can direct their time and energy to a new cause that helps people and brings fulfillment.

  14. I am touched, moved and inspired by both this article and by the actions and love of the people whom this article is about. I rarely complement Baptists yet here i do for your untiring service and love of humanity (and community) you all have shown. My utmost admiration for you for doing this in the face of being ignored and not heard and cast out. And i admire that you can do what you called the “bitter-sweet” thing, like when children fledge or marry — and being able to say “thank you” to society for finally meeting the need of your people and your community — and tho you didn’t say it — for letting you put these healing energies of yours into your next projects.

    And MPN — thank you too for publishing this report in the compassionate, acknowledging way you did. I am so used to conservative people trash talking and badmouthing ACA that i was completely taken aback by your acknowledgements (deserved acknowledgements) of another American government program which cares for and about people.

    Once again, i am touched, moved and inspired by you all and your loving actions.

  15. It should be noted that this ministry program began during the second term of Bill Clinton who, with his wife, had attempted to begin such a universal healthcare system as the ACA but, like Obama, was countered by the Republicans. As this ministry has performed the work required of it by the mandate of Jesus, all praise to them and to Him who placed His hand on their shoulders. May he continue to shine His countenance upon the Obama administration.

  16. What a great story and kudos to those who volunteered to unselfishly meet the needs of those who couldn’t afford medical care. Please pass this example on to help dispel the outright lies and misinformation about the Affordable Care Act. My hope is in years to come we will see an expansion of the act so health care will be universal in this country, as it is in many countries around the world. And as others have said here, vote out those weasels who put their own narrow political interest before the interests of the general public.

  17. Obama has been the biggest political disappointment of my life, but, if this Affordable Care Act stays afloat and gets wings, it will have been his only, but greatest achievement. That’s why the Republicans are fighting so hard to kill it by holding out on Medicare and all the other tricks they’re pulling out of their little bag. Because of simple hatred of the color of the man, they are letting thousands of their own suffer and possibly die. We have to vote them out, and if I had my way, there’d be a speedy but fair trial and some Public hangings.

  18. Love this: “Like rural electricity and social security and public schools and roads, health care is something we do best by working together. They are not communism, they are not violations of the constitution…they take care of needs that are basic to all citizens and that are done best in concert, not competition with each other.”

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