For the second year in a row, Watermark Health partnered with OurCalling when winter weather hit Dallas, leaving members of the homeless community vulnerable in below-freezing temperatures.
On February 3rd & 4th, members of the medical team provided urgent care services to 44 patients in homelessness who were sheltering from the winter storm at Fair Park. They also engaged in Gospel-centered conversations with each patient and several other individuals.
Watermark Health’s unique partnership with OurCalling found its beginnings during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May of 2020, during the beginning stages of pandemic lockdowns, Watermark Health sent a group of medical professionals to partner with OurCalling to serve the homeless community through tents and pop-up clinics. Since then, this relationship has only grown as the Mobile Clinic is now on-site at OurCalling weekly.
This simple “yes” in May of 2020 has created several opportunities to continue serving our city’s most vulnerable in crisis moments. In February 2021, four staff members made a spur-of-the-moment decision to join OurCalling by setting up a pop-up clinic in the Convention Center during the ice storm. When the call came to partner with OurCalling again, they were prepared.
Leading up to the 2022 ice storm, the Mobile Clinic team had already prepared bins of supplies and travel plans for potential disaster response efforts. As soon as the weather forecast projected winter weather, the team was ready and before OurCalling even reached out. They knew they could say “yes” to go and provide care for friends, many of whom they know by name.
Whitney Pickett, Mobile Clinic charge nurse, served both years and helped lead the team’s effort in preparation for crisis response.
“Last year helped us solidify what was needed to create ready-to-go pop-up clinic bins for things like a winter storm emergency,” said Pickett. “When the time came, we knew exactly what medical supplies we would need to be there for multiple days.”
Being prepared helped the team focus on building relationships and Gospel-centered conversations.
"This year, it was incredible to link arms with friends with whom we are already on mission weekly at OurCalling. It was a great opportunity to connect with friends who we have seen previously," said Pickett.
"My favorite part of seeing patient relationships grow is seeing individuals grow in their relationship with Christ. At the end of the day, it is not about OurCalling or Watermark Health, but it's all about Jesus working in people's hearts. I love hearing what patients are learning or reading in scripture. I draw closer and know Jesus more because of my friends on the streets." - Whitney Pickett, Mobile Clinic charge nurse
Group shelters can often be overwhelming and a source of anxiety for the chronically homeless. For one of the regular patients at OurCalling, knowing she would have familiar faces there brought her peace.
“When they told me we could go to Fair Park during the storm, I knew I had to go to stay safe, but I had anxiety to the point of hyperventilating thinking about being in the same building with that many people. When I found out that the health team was there too, it helped a lot to know I would be seeing familiar faces who care for me. I had fallen on the ice and hurt my ribs. I knew they could help me with that but also that they were going to take time to talk with me.”
This patient, who has been treated several times at OurCalling, expressed with tears in her eyes how grateful she was for faithful and consistent friends.
“I actually look forward to seeing them. I don’t want to have to have a reason to see them, because that means being hurt or sick, but I look forward to talking with them and hearing their encouragement. Whenever life does get hard, I know they will be helpful and compassionate. I love them and the people of the church that allowed them to come here and do this (serve at OurCalling). I know that when I need them that they’ll be there for me and there is a church that has a heart for God and His people that will pray for me.”
Scripture tells the story of a God who cares for and spends time with those that the world rejected or pushed to the margins. While there are a variety of complexities that drive individuals to chronic homelessness that require thoughtful interventions, much of the right response starts with something straightforward that Jesus modeled time and time again; simply showing up. The partnership with OurCalling and flexibility and preparation by the Mobile Clinic staff continues to allow the people of God to continue showing up and caring for others. They model the love of Christ using healthcare as a tool for His love.