The passage of President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill has dominated the news recently, but in Spokane a team of dedicated professionals has been providing medical services for the uninsured since 1991.
Christ Clinic opened with the goal of reaching out to the working poor. And from the clinic’s inception, Dr. Samuel Palpant has offered his services. On March 11, the North Spokane Exchange Club honored his volunteer efforts with its annual Golden Deeds Award.
Exchange Club member Bob Anderson said, “The Golden Deeds Award is unique to the Exchange Clubs of America and is intended to recognize individuals whose volunteer efforts may go unnoticed, to motivate others in the community to volunteer.
Attributes looked for include self-sacrifice, courage, compassion and a genuine interest to help their fellow man. The members of he North Spokane Exchange Club see Palpant as a wonderful example of the attributes of the Golden Deed Award.”
However, Palpant is quick to deflect any praise. “This is really about Christ Clinic,” he said. “I’m just one of many volunteers.”
He may be one of many, but his credentials are impeccable. Palpant is board certified in three medical specialties, is clinic faculty at UW Medical School and is the assistant director of the Internal Medicine residency program in Spokane.
He has devoted his professional career to educating medical students and young specialists, and he delights in introducing them to his work at Christ Clinic.
Palpant said taking his third-year students to the clinic offers them the chance to “give out of the abundance of what they’ve been given in training.”
He’s no stranger to altruism, having spent five years as a medical missionary in rural Africa. “The poor in every community around the world struggle to find medical help,” he said.
His work at Christ Clinic doesn’t differ much from his day job. But the freedom to pray for people there and to “encourage people in their faith as well as their physical well-being,” has been a privilege, he said.
Palpant is proud of the high quality of care offered at Christ Clinic, saying it offers virtually the same services anyone would receive at a private facility. But what he finds most rewarding about his time there is the focus the staff and volunteers are able to give to their patients. “People pay particular attention to them (patients) at all levels – physical, mental and spiritual. It’s really kind of a robust, whole-person medicine.”
Volunteering at Christ Clinic fits with Palpant’s passion “that we move outside of our little enclave – of what we do in office medicine.”
In addition his time at the clinic gives him personal satisfaction. “There’s a lot of gratification in taking care of people who might not have the resources in other places,” he said.