FLINT, MI – Soon after Ilean “Queen” Murrell finished her free ultrasound and saw the hand of her unborn daughter, Queen’s five-year-old son Camden had an important thought.
“I want to see what’s in my belly.”
He was sitting on his mother’s ultrasound along with his two brothers, Kaiden and Justice, in the basement of the Franklin Avenue Mission, where the Detroit-based nonprofit The Luke Clinic provides free antenatal care and medical care for younger children. at 12 months with no questions asked.
The Luke Clinic began as a simple free antenatal care clinic, but has since grown into a full-service clinic that has referral resource partnerships throughout the Flint and Detroit areas.
The religious organization began with a mission to reduce infant mortality rates in Michigan cities that are home to some of the largest medical operations in the country.
It quickly became an organization that specializes in erasing the boundaries of medical care and other services for expectant mothers and their families through trust.
“My patients in Detroit tell me, ‘Miss Penny, you know, black people are afraid of the police. Women of color are afraid of health workers, ‘”said Executive Director Penny Armbruster.” … The key to us is relationship. That relationship takes time. “
The infant mortality rate in Detroit, where the clinic was founded, has seen a historic drop from 16.7 deaths per 1,000 births to 11 per 1,000 births in 2019, but the issues causing a high rate in Detroit compared to the rest of the Country are complex.
Armbruster thinks it’s a question of trust. Instead of inserting the patient into the provider’s culture, Luke Clinic brings the provider to the patient. They do this with a mobile ambulance in the Detroit area
“The real key is to be able to remove barriers to care so that you can then host them regularly in the clinic,” Armbruster said.
Queen, who was one of the first patients at Detroit’s Luke Clinic, said she probably wouldn’t be here today without the support the clinic and Armbruster provided her.
“It’s a blessing. … I was able to receive prenatal care at no cost, ”she said.
The Queen stays with her children at Mercy House, a women’s refuge in Flint for young mothers and their babies. The Mercy House is another partner of The Luke Clinic and Franklin Avenue Mission.
The 32-year-old is expected to have her fourth child in August. Camden, Justice and Kaiden have all said they can’t wait to meet their little sister.
“They arranged my first baby shower for me and I was able to get all the things I needed for (Camden),” Queen said. “He has received a swing, a bed, clothes and gift certificates: everything I needed or wanted, they provided me.
“As a mother, it was very nice because I didn’t have that support or that help until the Luke Clinic came. He was able to support me and give me the things I needed ”.
Armbruster and the Luke Clinic have even worked to reunite Queen’s children in Flint as a family. Each of them was staying in different locations in the Detroit area.
“They did,” the queen said as she watched her children in the activity room. “They provided me with a place to stay at Mercy House and then I was able to take Kaiden and Justice and bring them all here with me. Miss Penny made this happen. … I was away from them for a while until they were able to reunite us.
Flint’s location serves less than its Detroit location, as it has only been operational since Fall 2021.
The clinic has worked slowly to spread the word about its services that can save lives, empower women and strengthen faith.
Armbruster works from the point of view of “I intend to collaborate with anyone who has my same heart”.
He calls the Luke Clinic a social ministry, not an evangelical one. Some Luke Clinic patients have abortions, and the Luke Clinic will treat patients before and after the same, Armbruster said.
The Luke Clinic uses the same state-of-the-art equipment used by hospitals. They receive donations or can purchase equipment for a large discount through their partner, the University of Michigan Family Medicine Group, who assists the operation in a number of ways.
Sitting in the basement of the Franklin Avenue Mission, located at 2210 N. Franklin Ave., the clinic features a children’s activity room, social assistance, free meals, clothes, insurance navigators, and transportation.
For more information, you can contact the Luke Clinic at 866-458-5352.
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