A decade after Islamic Relief USA donors provided a new building for a health-care center destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the building is still serving the community.
“The gift that keeps giving,”Coastal Family Health CenterCEO Angelique Greer said with a laugh.
When Hurricane Katrina approached land in August 2005, the director at the time, Joe Dawsey, did everything he could think of to prepare his facilities, covering computers with plastic and backing up data. After the storm, he drove from site to ¬site to see how they were. It was worse than he feared: Four of the nine clinics were destroyed. One of the worst hit was the East Biloxi building.
“Water and mud and stuff was up over the top of it, and everything in that building was ruined,” he said in a 2007 article in Nonprofit Quarterly. Staff stood outside another of the destroyed clinics, in shock.
Like the other clinics in the health system, the site in East Biloxi was dedicated to serving anyone in need of care, whether or not the patients could pay. It served mainly homeless and low-income patients. Now, after the storm, there was a sudden increase in need for the clinic’s care—and nowhere to care for them. Islamic Relief USA donors gave staff back a place to serve their community: a double-wide mobile home to be converted quickly into a clinic.
With records and billing systems destroyed, staff scrambled to care for patients affected by the storm from their new space.
“Immediately after the storm, we were providing services that were unbilled—just trying to provide basic services for patients who were showing up,” Greer said. “We did use that double wide mobile facility for quite a long time. It was an excellent facility.”
Out of that converted mobile facility, the staff cared for homeless and HIV-positive patients, and provided mental health and substance abuse counseling services. They also worked from that site to do patient registration and paperwork for dental services provided at another site.
“Thanks to the generous donation of the Islamic Relief double-wide clinic and equipment, we have been able to serve approximately 7,500 patients,” Dawsey said after the clinic reopened. “We appreciate all of the help given by Islamic Relief to Coastal and the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
Within a few years, the health center rebuilt and no longer needed the trailer, so they gave it to a school clinic.
“Since it was given to us free of charge, we turned around and paid it forward to another community health center that was in need of a facility,” Greer said. “So now it provides space for medical and dental care to students in a rural community about 90 miles northeast of Biloxi in Leakesville. And so it remains very active.”
Greer said it now provides about 1,500 patient services per year, including care for 400 children.
“Those services wouldn’t be available if that facility wasn’t there,” she said.
Greer said she wanted to share with IRUSA donors how much the gift meant to her and her predecessor, Dawsey. “Our sincere and deepest appreciation for the support,” she said. “Please convey our appreciation — how much the Islamic Relief support meant to us. Our recovery was dependent upon the benevolence of folks such as the Islamic Relief organization, and we just wouldn’t have been able to make it had it not been for you guys, especially right here in Biloxi.”
Learn more about IRUSA’s work in the USA by clicking here