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Christ Clinic medical staff offer to pray with each patient. Nine out of ten times, patients accept, regardless of their faith. Each of the 30 doctors in the organization


contributed $1,000, providing seed money for a low-income medical clinic, which opened in a 1,300 square foot room in Westminster Presbyterian Church. While the contributions came from


many, it was four doctors, Scott Edminster, Frank Otto, Jeff O’Connor and Sam Palpant, who took on the responsibility of running the clinic. “To be honest with you, initially, the four of us were sort of carrying the whole thing, so it could really get burdensome. In a lot of ways it was like a tag team wrestling match,” says Edminster, a former wrestler, describing what it was like for the doctors to manage what they started. One would be in “wrestling” with things for as long as he could, and just when it felt like he couldn’t last any longer, one of the other doctors would jump in and relieve him. It required a great deal of time and dedication from these doctors who were juggling the clinic along with


58 SPOKANE CDA • March • 2013


their demanding full-time jobs. Another


Christ Kitchen reason the work was so


exhausting was because there was—and still is—an incredible need for healthcare in the Spokane community. “There is a huge working poor population in Spokane, including people who work in the service industry, hospitality and positions that do not pay a living wage, nor do they offer benefits,” says Kristine Ruggles, executive director of Christ Clinic. “The clinic wanted to provide a primary family care practice, or a primary healthcare clinic, where these people could go and receive the same quality of care as someone who had insurance.” Christ Clinic describes itself as, “A


Christ-centered, non-denominational medical clinic, providing for the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of uninsured individuals in the Spokane area.”


From the very beginning, the board wanted to make sure mental health care was part of the services offered at Christ Clinic.


Jan Martinez was one


of the original volunteer counselors who worked with patients. It was through her work at the clinic, that she had the vision to open Christ Kitchen, the catering company and retail store, from which many people recognize the famous bags of soup and cookie ingredients, sold at River Park Square each Christmas.


“I was the therapist at Christ Clinic beginning


in 1993, and as I listened to my patients’ heart and stories, I realized how isolated the women were,” says Martinez. “Most were very hesitant to join helping communities or attend church. I knew that money was highly motivating, so I thought we could draw the women into a healing, spiritual community through work. Thus, our job-training ministry began in 1998, with two patients from Christ Clinic and a bag of pinto beans. God began doing His big work of changing lives through our little business of selling beans.”


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